Film Review (Sundance 2022): “A Love Song” is short, simple and sweet, almost wrong

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Director: Max Walker-Silverman

Writer: Max Walker-Silverman

Featuring: Dale Dickey, West Studi

Synopsis: After unhooking her RV by a lake in the mountains, Faye finds her rhythm by cooking meals, scavenging crayfish from a trap, and scanning her old radio for a station. She watches eagerly for the approach of a car or the postman, explaining to nearby campers that she is waiting for a childhood sweetheart she hasn’t seen in decades. When he arrives, Lito and Faye, both widowed, spend an evening reminiscing about their lives, their losses and their loneliness.

It doesn’t take long A love song for director Max Walker-Silverman to create a warm and cozy atmosphere. The location is beautiful along the lake and the dark nights and lit fires help bring the viewer into the scene, gathering around the campfire. There’s a real sense of community built into the basis of this film, in which Wes Studi’s Faye is seen mingling with the other campers in her area, talking about life and death and all things love. Everyone in this movie is open and honest, which makes the audience feel like they’ve known these characters for years.

Of course, the main plot of the story revolves around the interactions between Faye and her childhood sweetheart Lito, played by Dale Dickey. His screen time is shorter than expected, but it helps support his role as someone who comes to rekindle his love with Faye. Dickey is able to add a lot of emotional weight to the film with his presence, and he and Studi have great chemistry together, which helps sell their connection together in an authentic way.

The structure and presentation of A love song is very simple, only staying at the campsite for what is essentially the entire movie. There are only a handful of characters and there is very little action that takes place. Instead, this film focuses on dialogue and atmosphere, creating what feels like a warm, comforting hug that’s familiar but necessary. Sometimes all a movie needs to do is be enjoyable and remind audiences of the power of love and rekindle old friendships.

There are lots of little moments that, while not adding much to the narrative, help add to the tone of the film and are just plain endearing to watch. From making ice cream cones to singing and playing guitar, these little moments are something the viewer can watch when attending a night out with these two. It’s small, personal and intimate; yet, in those moments, it works incredibly well. These small moments are paired with the use of a muted color gradient and cinematography that helps capture these beautiful landscapes to help further immerse the audience.

For those just looking to get away for a few hours and be taken on this journey with Faye and Lito, the simple introduction may be all they need to connect with the story. However, there may also be a problem with the simplicity and brevity of this story. The film is short, only 81 minutes long, and it would have been nice to spend more time with these characters and add more depth to some of the subplots throughout the film. Faye interacts with several other characters at the campsite and it seems like it’s just there to flesh out the time while she waits for Lito, and it would have been great to have more development here. The most moving storyline that seemed to carry a lot of weight actually came from a subplot involving a family wanting to dig under Faye’s motorhome and it would have come to a more satisfying conclusion if we had more of that story in the movie. .

A love song does what it says on the box and presents a stripped down and honest film. For his feature debut, Max Walker-Silverman shows great strength in capturing tone, heart and using key cinematic techniques such as cinematography and color grading to help elevate what is a simple and pleasant. I’m certainly excited to see what he does in the future and how he continues to push beyond his limits.

Category B-

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