‘A Love Song’ remains in your head, long after the experience

By Vanessa Zimmer

A Love Song is a quiet film about loss and memories and music, the nighttime sky and the daytime birds, and what lies below the surface and lingers in the hills.  

Two widowed friends, Faye and Lito, meet at Faye’s campsite No. 7 beside a sun-sparkled Western lake. They share crayfish Faye hauls from the lake, cans of Busch beer, and pleasant recollections of growing up around here and the 10th-grade field trip where one tried to kiss the other. The kisser and the kissee varies with who tells the story.

Dale Dickey, with her mesmerizing deeply lined face and long, red-blond hair, and Wes Studi, forever and always a calm, dignified presence, are haunting as Faye and Lito. They play their guitars together and trade lyrics to “Be Kind to Me.” 

But most of the music comes from Faye’s portable radio. “Give that dial a swirl,” she tells Lito. “It always plays the perfect song, even if in the moment, you’re not sure why.” 

In a Q&A following Thursday night’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Dickey and Studi praised the simplicity of the story. “It was a sweet, honest, tender story,” said Dickey, of writer and director Max Walker-Silverman’s feature-film debut. The dialogue is spare, but every word is important, as are the sounds of the birds, the wind, the lapping of the lake — and the layers of silence. 

“I gave these characters the gift of silence with the knowledge that these roles would be played by two masters,” said Walker-Silverman.