In Max Walker-Silverman’s A Love Song (2022), Dale Dickey performs subtly emotionally in a quiet, quirky story. Faye (Dickey) is camping in the rural West, waiting for an old flame to arrive. She isn’t entirely sure what he expects from their get-together, and it becomes clear she’s not entirely sure about her own. While waiting, Faye has a few visitors who stop by, prompting her to reflect on life and her interactions with others.
Walker-Silverman pulls a little bit of Wes Anderson with his framing of characters, looking down the lens and an odd – but loveable – quirkiness to the interactions. This lands early, as Faye answers a knock at her camper door, expecting the man she’s waiting for – only to see several men and a young boy. The boy requests kindly that she relocate to another campsite so they can retrieve the body of their dead father, whom they buried at this location. The exchange is kind and quiet and goes back and forth in a way that resembles Anderson while not quite copying it. This is great at establishing the tone for the rest of the film.
There is no big bombastic moment or over-the-top melodrama in the script. This is a meditation on loneliness and longing for connection. When we don’t see a clear path to the future, we look to the past to try and find a new one to walk on. Walker-Silverman captures this with his movie, and Dickey’s performance help realizes the themes. The film is not a sad one, as there is beauty around her and purpose in her actions and choices,m – but there is also something missing. She doesn’t seem 100% sure how to fill the void, and neither does Lito (Wes Studi). It’s powerful to sit with a story like this and see the careful hands of the writer and director trust in the empathy of his viewers to resist making a spectacle or falling into the melodrama.
A Love Song is a beautiful film that is comfortable with itself. The long, quiet shots of Dickey sitting and thinking are moving, as we connect with her in so many ways. Her insecurities, despite her many strengths, are a reflection of our own. It is easy to focus on the things we can’t control and fixate on those problems – and the film allows Faye to be lost in that at times, but change an engine the next. I definitely recommend this film and give it the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.