“A Love Song”

I love how the afternoon clouds are reflected in the poster frame

This Thursday night is a Local’s Screening of “A Love Song” at The Nugget theatre in Telluride. Local filmmaker, Max Walker-Silverman filmed his first feature, this quiet tale of recovery and discovery, in Norwood, Colorado. There’s a lovely image of Lone Cone mountain, the most recognizable landmark there, on the poster. The film got accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and was a hit. It’s now in theatrical distribution with Bleeker Street/Stage 6 Films. The film was chosen as a Critics Pick by the NYTimes.

It was wonderful to travel to my local arthouse cinema (Landmark Theatre Ritz 5 in Philadelphia) to watch a film set in a part of the world I lived for a time. It was wonderful to see my friend Hayley Nenadal in the credits. I’ve known her for over 10 years from San Francisco to Telluride. Thornycroft Kitchen, where I used to get my Vanilla Lattes and delicious Morning Buns, is listed for catering.

It’s wonderful to see a love story about older people

I find it astonishing that at such a young age, Walker-Silverman, has written a film about the inner life of an older woman and crafted it with such simplicity and emotional depth. Dale Dickey (so good in “Winters Bone”) is suddenly in a lot of projects, both film and tv. She’s exceptional as Faye, a woman who has pinned her hopes for a new life or a possible last romance, on a man she’s not seen in 40 years. The setting at a campsite next to a small lake is perfection. She’s isolated but is making the most of her time in nature.

The location becomes a character in the film. Faye identifies the birds by the songs that wake her in the morning and is learning the constellations by looking at the stars at night. Her character is resilient and she’s shown fixing her binoculars, replacing a busted truck engine, and repairing her crawdad catcher. How someone could survive on coffee and crawdads is a little puzzling…but at least she has beer. And later, there’s a tender moment shared over ice cream.

Dickey is matched in nervous expectation by her would-be suitor and childhood friend played by Wes Studi (“Dances With Wolves”). The film takes it’s time to set-up the expectation that Faye has for his arrival and doesn’t rush her lonely days of waiting at the campsite. She meets a few other travelers and locals and their interactions teach us more about her character. Once Studi’s character shows up with a handful of wilting wildflowers and a nervous tug of his well-worn shirt, we’re invested in this relationship.

Wisely, the reunion of these two widows is allowed to unfold slowly as they get reacquainted. There are quiet moments by the lake and subtle hints, like how far they sit apart and how their feet restlessly cross and recross, to show the inner tension they share. They’ve both been alone for a long time. They reminicence about their early days together and share what they miss about their former partners. It’s a pleasure to watch two faces, lined with age and free of make-up, sharing a shy twinkle of the eye or a bashful glance. This simple story allows the faces to tell the story.

The ending of the film is bittersweet but also one of empowerment. Faye seems to have found some inner peace and as she drives off with her magic radio, the song lyrics match her mood. She must be moving down the road and return to home. She’s discovered a little self-love and now she’s ready to begin a new life for herself.

Drinks With Films rating: 3 warm cans of beer, sipped while enjoying ice cream cones (out of 5)

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