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A LOVE SONG (2022) review

August 8, 2022


written by: Max Walker-Silverman
produced by: Dan Janvey, Jesse Hope & Max Walker-Silverman
directed by: Max Walker-Silverman
rated: PG (for mild thematic elements)
runtime: 82 min.
U.S. release date: July 29, 2022 (theatrical)


Veteran character actors Dale Dickey and Wes Studi have been in so many movies and television series collectively that it would be safe to assume that they’ve been in the same movie at some point. In fact, a quick IMDb scan shows they were both in “Being Flynn” from 2012, proving that sometimes assumptions lead to the truth. But, rarely have we seen these great actors take center stage and carry a movie and now the American West drama “A Love Song” allows them the chance to do just that. Written, directed, produced, and co-edited by Max Walker-Silverman, making his feature-length directorial debut, who offers the gift of room and space for these two actors as they inhabit lived-in characters that feel authentic and relatable.

When we meet Faye (Dickey), her trailer is parked beside an open lake in a state park just south of the Colorado Rockies. She has traveled solo to this particular campsite lot and there is no one else within eyesight. It is morning and coffee has been made and she is waiting patiently for someone. It’s unclear who she is waiting for or when they will arrive, but we experience time with her nevertheless. She catches crawfish in the lake for food and sits alongside the water at a picnic table with her magical transistor radio (which always plays an appropriate song to accentuate her lonesome longing – such as Taj Mahal’s “Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes,” Elizabeth Cotten’s “Shake Sugaree” and Valerie June’s “Slip Slide on By” – no matter what direction she flips the dial). Faye’s only companions are two books, one on bird identification for daytime and one for picking out constellations for night time viewing. Both books are for slowing down and observing, exactly what Walker-Silverman has in mind with “A Love Song”.



Time does indeed pass, but there is something gnawing under the surface for Faye. At one point, we see her flip open a 2020 boat calendar and close her eyes. With a black marker she lands on a specific square, opens her eyes and writes, “Today”. Is that the day she will leave? Could that be how long she will wait for her visitor? These are questions that draw us closer, rather than pull us away.

Other characters within Faye’s vicinity eventually knock on her trailer door and it’s a storytelling technique that peels back the layers of who this protagonist is, while offering some natural context to the world Walker-Silverman has created. The first visitor is a polite young Native American girl who is backed by what we can assume to be her shy cowboy brothers. She asks Faye if her trailer can be moved in order for them to exhume their father’s body and bury him elsewhere. Faye listens and then kindly replies that she needs to stay where she’s at since someone will be meeting her there. Faye is surprised by knock from a Black woman vacationing with her girlfriend and she hesitantly accepts a request from the couple (Michelle Wilson and Benja K. Thomas) for dinner, yet we can tell the possibility of someone else arriving is on her mind. Another knock occurs and it’s the local postman, Sam (John Way), who is familiar to Faye, indicating she’s been there a while and he’s not your typical postal delivery person.

These are scenes in which Walker-Silverman and cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo humanize characters on the fringe, while establishing a certain degree of quirk to the tone of “A Love Song”. In real life, we probably wouldn’t give such characters a second thought, but this screenplay asks viewers to consider them as individuals or at least tap into our curiosity about them, while center-framing them in a Wes Anderson-like manner, delivering straightforward, someone odd, albeit honest dialogue with Faye.



Then one day, the guest Faye has been waiting for arrive at her door, only she is not inside her trailer to open it. Lito (Wes Studi) appears with flowers in hand, awaiting a reply. Faye is noticeably nervous as she watches him standing there and then greets him as she slowly approaches him. Lito turns around with an awkward smile and appears equally nervous. Although they have been friends since childhood, it has been decades since these two have seen each other. Over dinner, she had previously indicated with the nearby lesbian couple that she has a history with the guy she is expected, hinted that it was at one time a something of a romance, but she has no idea where they stand now, much less what he looks like. During this greeting, both of them pause to look each other over, like trying to recognize someone at a high school reunion. One gathers that these two weren’t just friendly classmates, but theirs could have been “first love” for both.

How do you catch up with an old friend in a short amount of time after so much life has lived? Maybe a bigger question is, “Why?”. Faye is the one who sent a letter to Lito, inviting him to meet her at a place we learn they visited once on a school field trip (where he tried to kiss her or she tried to kiss him – depending on who’s retelling the story). Both of them share how they are now widowed, but it’s unclear what kind of correspondence they’ve had before this meeting. It seems like they kept each other somewhat in the loop, but there’s a big difference between mail correspondence and then seeing someone you once liked for the first time in decades. Faye definitely has a longing for love and connection, but what can come from her time with Lito? She’s unsure, but she’s curious to find out. “A Love Song” has its own curiosity, wondering what can be explored or rekindled between two such people.



Regarding the film’s title, there is sparse music in “A Love Song”, but the word “Song” can probably be replaced with “Longing”. After all, so many of our longings in life are unfinished songs with uncertain melodies and half-written lyrics. It’s more of a feeling, this mysterious song in our hearts and sometimes we try to get back to that feeling we once had with someone and sometimes it works.

Composer Ramzi Bashour (a producer, director, and cinematographer, in his own right), but the most memorable song in the film is performed by Dickey and Studi, as they sit with guitars singing Michael Hurley’s “Be Kind to Me”. We get the idea this is something they used to do together and it’s an effortless way to reconnect. It’s a way in, but not necessarily a way back.

Shot on location in Colorado in 2020 during the prime of the pandemic, “A Love Song” provides meditative escapism, while tapping into something that’s relatable for just about everyone. It’s an excellent opportunity to see Dickey and Studi in a deserving new light and they are perfectly cast. Many of us have none how great they are for such a long time, so it’s great to see them as lead characters in a film with heart about life and longing.




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