Sundance: A Love Song
Love doesn’t fade. It crystallizes and becomes part of us – a lingering memento of an important connection in our lives. It runs in the background of our minds while we continue our daily routines. For Faye (Dale Dickey), that means making coffee and crawfish, looking up at the sky and waiting.
A Love Song is a gentle and meditative story about the loneliness that loss brings and accepting that it’s not going anywhere. Writer-director Max Walker-Silverman delivers a small but nourishing work in his debut feature. He captures the endless breadth of America’s natural splendor as well as the pain and hope that exist within a single person’s heart. Veterans Dickey and Wes Studi reflect the forlorn emptiness of the vast Colorado landscape with beguiling performances.
We meet Faye at campsite seven. Her trailer and pick-up truck enjoy a gorgeous view of the tranquil lake where, each day, she fetches crawfish from her trap that appears to make up the bulk of her diet which she washes down with a pot of Café Bustelo coffee. Her modest trailer is quaint and holds little more than the essentials. Her bookshelf holds two books: one guide to birds and another to stars – or one for day and one for night. The only other thing Faye does is patiently wait in anticipation for Lito (Studi), an old flame from her youth.
Each time she hears someone approach, she perks up and tidies herself with a measured excitement, only to feel a sharp disappointment when it’s not him. Though Faye waits in a beautiful middle of nowhere, there are a few souls that cross her path. A mail carrier stops by to share a cup of coffee with Faye, even though there are no letters for her. A friendly family of cowpokes, led by a genial young lady, want to move the body of their father, buried beneath campsite seven, to a more appropriate resting place. A young couple at an adjacent campsite invites Faye to a dinner party. One shares her desire to get married to her partner while the other isn’t so sure. Eventually, Lito arrives and the two share a sweet if not awkward day together before commiserating on the loss they both suffered with the death of their respective partners.
Dickey and Studi play their heartsick roles as wilted flowers, drooping like wild dandelions that were plucked some time ago. With a cast this slim, there is an immense amount of time and space these few characters have to occupy. Dickey makes the solitude immersing, but leaves enough room for the excitement Faye feels at the prospect of Lito’s arrival to be felt by the viewer.
Walker-Silverman and Director of Photography Alfonso Herrera Salcedo, make a meal out of the postcard views that surround Faye’s trailer. The calmness of the lake leads to hills of green brush that crescendo into mountains that line the horizon under an endless blue sky. The solitude captured against the stunning backdrop of Southwest Colorado is mesmerizing.
The glorious but indifferent landscapes of the American West are having a moment. Chloé Zhao’s Best Picture winning Nomadland brought the lonely, introspective exploration of the region to the forefront of American cinema. Walker-Silverman picks up right where Zhao left off. Both films have their female leads living in cramped spaces in the wide-open prairie as they struggle with loss. The question in A Love Song is asked – “Reckon you can still love something that ain’t there no more?” – and is answered with “However long you get, that’s enough.”