Max Walker-Silverman delivers a careful study of two lonely souls in “A Love Song.” This is a thoroughly engrossing, brisk and detailed film highlighting the day to day details of rural Western life. Smart, sharp and engaging, it is also uncompromising. The film rejects all that is frivolous and trivial and compels the audience.
Fay (Dale Dickey) is a 60ish widow and fisher who lives in a trailer in Colorado. She is hard-faced and weathered by the sun but there is a twinkle in her eye at times. She catches lobster or crawfish. She smokes. She drinks beer. The days pass with unfailing and unflinching regularity. It is the year 2020. Needless to say, her calendar is blank. Fay closes her eyes and points to a random day on the calendar. Occasionally she fixes her hair. One gets the feeling she is waiting for a date. Fay scowls periodically, fully and without regret.
This is a painstaking portrait in miniature. This minimalist study is a wistful hybrid of Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” (2020) and David Lynch’s “A Straight Story” (1999). Nothing is in excess. All elements are laser-focused, tuned to the sharpness of tears.
Lito (Wes Studi) is a childhood friend, now an older man who is shy and unassuming. The two share sweet somewhat silent moments. They sing a duet and regard each other with warmth. Their friendship is punctuated with ambiguity and wishes left unspoken.
The spare story is peppered with some quirk, when four workers arrive headed by a young girl with a cowboy hat (Marty Grace Dennis), the head of the group. The crew need to dig up their dead grandfather and Fay’s trailer is on the designated spot. Every so often, the ultra-polite cowboy diggers commiserate with the girl and the deadpan manner of these moments recall David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
This is a very spare direct and intimate film. The singular scene of Fay and Lito at a kitchen table eating ice cream speaks volumes of magic and adventures, once experienced and now misplaced.
The confrontational facial portraits within “A Love Song” will not be for everyone but this analysis of a bittersweet friendship is one of the best precisely because the outcomes are left for us to imagine and ponder.
A wrinkled face contains woe and a sense of wonder with qualities both real and unreal.
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