Sundance Film Review: A Love Song
Sundance Review: A Love Song
Director: Max Walker-Silverman
Cow Hip Films
Premieres: 01.20 at 9:15 p.m., MST
Every movie buff has their favorite stars. Dale Dickey, who stars in the poignant and haunting A Love Song, may not be a movie star in the conventional sense, but she’s a treasure of the big and small screens and never ceases to amaze me.
In A Love Song, Dickey plays Faye, a middle-aged widow who is living in a camper at campsite seven in an unspecified lakeside mountain region. Faye spends her days cooking up crawfish that she traps, trying to get a radio station to work and waiting. Specifically, Faye is waiting for a letter from a friend who may be more than just a friend. After days of not getting a letter, Faye is close to giving up when that friend, Lito (Wes Studi, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat), surprises her by showing up. The two find themselves reconnecting, reminiscing and conversing about life, loneliness and their departed loved ones and feeling the sparks of romance in the air.
Writer-director Max Walker-Silverman impresses with his first feature, wisely choosing not to ruin the tranquility and solitude of the setting with a lot of razzle-dazzle camera movement, instead concentrating on exquisite framing and creating a sense of quiet introspection. That makes A Love Song a unique and beautiful film. Dickey, whose long list of credits includes The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, Winter’s Bone, Hell or High Water and Palm Springs, may be best known to many as Patty, the daytime hooker on My Name is Earl, but her range and depth as an actress is second to none. Dickey gives a moving and heartfelt performance that makes us see a beauty in Faye beyond physical appearance or even a particularly great spirit; something found in the depth of her raw humanity.
Studi is one of the great underrated actors of his generation, and A Love Song gives him a chance to shed his larger-than-life persona and play a character who is laidback, likable and relatable. The chemistry between the two actors is enough to carry several films, but Walker-Sliverman proves to be a restrained and controlled artist who never tries to overmilk anything. A Love Song has some charming moments of comic whimsy, especially a recurring bit involving a family of cowhands who has business in campsite seven, and is represented by pre-teen Dice (Marty Grace Dennis), who acts as the mouthpiece for the group. Dennis could be called a scene stealer, but only in the sense of being so memorable, as she never tries to pull focus and Walker-Silverman never lets the comedy become overplayed.
A Love Song is exactly the kind of diamond-in-the-rough that makes the Sundance Film Festival something that I look forward to each year, and we can expect to see great things from Walker-Silverman in the future. More than that, I hope we see many more great leading roles for the marvelous Dickey, whose realistic and charming portrayal of such a richly drawn character is sure to be one of this year’s highlights. –Patrick Gibbs
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