Sometimes the best movies are those that are understated. Quiet and slow can be more effective than gut-busting laughter or large explosions and action scenes in films. Even though those could be fun as well if done right. A slower, quieter film like A Love Song lets the actors and the story be the film’s star, and that’s what director Max Walker-Silverman achieves with this film.
Faye (Dale Dickey), usually a character actress now she gets the starring role, is a woman camping off the grid in Colorado. She spends most of her day and night fishing the nearby lake, reading, and sometimes stargazing. She has sent a message to a man from her past to meet her at this very campground. Lito (Wes Studi) has a black lab, and he and Faye have much catching up to do.
The film has a few supporting characters that round out this very small cast: a couple that is camping across the lake with a decision to make of their own, a family who becomes friends with Dickey’s character, and a postman who delivers the mail by donkey. He helps to keep her optimistic about the future.
There are two stars in this film besides its actors, one of which is the music in the movie — sometimes played on a hand-held radio if she can get a channel reception on it. Also, some characters play music on guitars and sing songs. The songs bring the whole film together in a way that is quaint and delightful.
The other star that I should mention is the cinematography by Alphonso Herrara Salcedo. He captures morning shots of the one mountain in the distance overlooking the lake. He also gets shots of the plains and hillside adjacent to the lake and campground. High shots looking down on the entire area give the viewer a fantastic perspective on how gorgeous this place she’s living in really is. It makes me want to go there and get off the grid myself if I weren’t so reliant on wifi and technology.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Dale Dickey is a character actor. She usually is typecast as crack whores or strung-out drug addicts. Once in a while, she plays a social worker. These are just the roles she’s been able to get in her career. She has a way of being withered and aged that directors are looking for, but she’s been a pretty prolific actress on the stage and small screen beside the big screen. A Love Song is the breakout role of her career, and she gives an Oscar-worthy performance.
All the little things Dickey’s character does are what bring a level of maturity to the character that I believe the director is looking for. She makes coffee or brings in her cages to catch crawfish. She has an idiosyncratic routine that keeps her going each day until that fateful day when her long-lost friend shows up at her campsite. She knows all the little details she needs to do as this character and does them to perfection.
A Love Song is an achievement in indie filmmaking that anybody, let alone its director, Max Walker-Silverman, can be proud of. He gets an amazing performance from Dickey that rivals any given this year this far, becoming this woman in such a believable way. The music and cinematography add a level of professionalism that this film deserves. This is the achievement in filmmaking that Bleecker Street finally needed. I just hope that everyone involved gets rewarded with awards and acclaim come next year at awards season.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media