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A Love Song

This debut feature is a slow yet aching take on nostalgia

The reflection of a romantic flame from the past has been ingrained in many pieces of literature, cinema, and playwriting, it is no surprise to see it reimagined and reproduced over and over. The complex feelings of age, nostalgia, and the dangerous entrenchment of not wanting to move on are fascinating emotions to explore for both directors and actors. A Love Song (2022) is a rather quiet and contemplative film on the matter, infusing grief in the mix as well.

Faye (Dale Dickey) is living in a mobile home in a camping ground by a lake. She’s waiting and hoping that her old flame Lito (Wes Studi) shows up. Being both widowed, Faye has a distinct curiosity if this special location might reignite old passions.

A Love Song is the first feature-length film from director Max Walker-Silverman, who brings about a patience and slow pace uncharacteristic to jumpy and impatient young filmmakers. Walker-Silverman revels in the beautiful scenery of the American west, and injects some quirky side characters, such as a young girl and four adult men who seek to unearth their dead father, or a lesbian couple who bring a jarringly cheerful color to the scene. However, it is when the characters are mostly silent and contemplative that A Love Song shines best.

Coming from the short-film circuit, Walker-Silverman clearly enjoys the added space and time he has with a feature film. However, he also struggles to find a proper pace for his film. The meditative and beautiful shots of the wilderness can drag on and be redundant after a while; this is no doubt to make viewers feel the dull waiting that Faye undergoes, but given that the film barely clocks at 1 hour and 20 minutes, one gets the feeling that Walker-Silverman is also stretching his runtime from an idea better suited for a compact short. Nevertheless, while the slow pacing of the film is the biggest weakness in A Love Song, it is in some of these quiet moments where it is strongest.

Studi and Dickey are forced into largely non-verbal performances. This not only enhances the line delivery whenever we do get dialogue, but it also helps these veteran character actors showcase their set of impressive skills that have been sadly ignored by much of Hollywood. The film is largely carried by Dickey who is in practically every frame of the film; she is given her most complex character yet, not basing her casting from her looks (as she has been sadly throughout much of her career in the likes of Breaking Bad (2008-2013) or Winter’s Bone (2010)), but rather on her skill as a performer. This meritocracy is still not as widespread as Hollywood thinks it might be, and it is encouraging to see such a powerhouse performance from Dickey to prove this practice wrong. She brings about a well of hidden emotions that she only teases at throughout the film, with viewers seeing the pent-up feelings as dangerously eating at her from the inside. Studi likewise, brings a sharp and brief portrayal of a man confused in how he wants to express his emotions: to what point does he want to push into the space of nostalgia before he becomes shackled to it. It is these questions of limits in desire that the actors pose through their subtle performances.

In the end, A Love Song is a sweet and contemplative film dealing with the fine line between grief, nostalgia, and personal stagnation. Using a beautiful backdrop of the American west, along with two fantastic performances from Studi and Dickey in particular, A Love Song is able to overcome its dragging pace and proves to be a strong debut for Walker-Silverman.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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