'A Love Song' review: When moving forward means looking back

Framed by soaring mountains and a sparkling lake somewhere in southwestern Colorado, a nervous, thirsty woman (Dale Dickey) catches crawfish and waits in her small RV for the arrival of someone special. The woman is Faye and, like Lito (Wes Studi), the childhood friend she hopes will answer her invitation, she is a long widowed. Maybe he too is ready for company.

Slow, sweet and understated, “A Love Song,” Max Walker-Silverman’s charming feature debut, is about end-of-life wants and needs that never quite go away. Building solid characters from mere snippets of information (Faye was once a bush pilot, Lito a musician), the two leads embrace a script (by the director) filled with long silences and elaborate close-ups. Plaintive country songs waft from Faye’s transistor as she studies bird species by day and constellations by night – scenes that tell us this isn’t someone who simply exists. She lives and learns.

From time to time, entertaining visitors stroll through Faye’s campsite – friendly neighbors with an invitation to dinner, native cowherds with an unusual request – their whimsical intrusions adding flavor to an unbending story. However, we soon realize that more than one type of love is celebrated in this title, including the director’s affection for his home country, its wide open spaces, and its wandering souls. In Faye and Lito, Walker-Silverman honors a certain type of Western, resilient, unsinkable, untethered archetype. This hardiness is found in the simplicity of Faye’s diet and daily routines, as much as in Alfonso Herrera Salcedo’s patient shots of flowering plants traversing parched earth.

Some of these flowers will be picked and offered, ice cream will be eaten and memories shared before this sweet film hinges on the emotion of a mourning dove’s call. What lingers, however, is a warmth that’s likely due, at least in part, to the director’s decision to surround himself with people he loves. (The Cowherds are played by her four closest friends, and her former roommate, Ramzi Bashour, composed the film’s score.) The result is a tender, laconic look at a woman who rarely confronts anything in life. , including loneliness, without a strategy.

“There are days and there are nights, and I have a book for each,” she tells Lito, a statement more heartbreaking than any monologue of lost love.

A love song
Rated PG. Duration: 1h21. In theaters.

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