A Love Song
(4/5) A quiet and poignant meditation on solitude and longing.
A Love Song was a delightful surprise. It follows Dale Dickey as Faye (who’s astounding here in a performance I hope will garner awards buzz) as a woman living off the grid in a camper amidst the mountains of Colorado. I’ve already seen comparisons to Nomadland, and I actually preferred this film. It has the simplicity and authenticity I found missing in the former and benefits from a smaller and more focused scope.
We watch Faye go through her simple daily routines in solitude, and it soon becomes clear she is waiting for someone. A former childhood love had long ago promised her he’d come find her on this specific spot on the campsite one day. For that reason, she has remained at this spot unmoved for an unspecified amount of time, each day hoping her childhood love will come like he promised. This knowledge alone makes Faye so endearing and empathetic and reveals much about her character without a single line of dialogue. I found myself constantly listening for the sound of a car approaching just as I knew Faye was, waiting on bated breath for his arrival and eager to see the look of exhilarated joy on Faye’s face when she sees him. With every occasional knock on her door by either the mailman or neighbor, she leaps out of bed, fixing her hair and clothes, hoping it will be him. These moments of anticipation revealed much about just how strongly she aches for connection despite her contentment with solitude, a profound illustration of how these two conflicting feelings can coexist.
Finally, Lito arrives (played to perfection by Wes Studi). The majority of the rest of the film chronicles the fleeting day they spend together before his hasty departure the next morning. They reminisce on their childhoods and the many people and places that now only exist as memories. They ruminate on the loss of their partners; their shared grief and mutual yearning to love again is achingly palpable. Through the course of their time together, you realize that Faye’s childhood feelings for him never dissipated - and that she’s probably wishing he’d decide to drop everything and stay on that campsite with her forever. But it’s eventually revealed that Tito, in the throes of grief from losing his wife, is not ready to move on and start anew. He’s not able to offer more of an explanation to Faye than “I can’t do this” before bidding her farewell the next morning.
She brushes it off and swiftly goes back to life as it was, but you can feel her heartbreak. It’s remarkable how much Dale Dickey conveys without words in these scenes, you sense her pain, her mourning for what was and what could have been. Nothing keeping her at that campsite any longer, she packs up and hits the road, moved and carried away by the love song on the radio as she drives. It's a melancholy, bittersweet ending. Life must carry on.