Movies from Swank: A Love Song

Will SorgEntertainment Columnist

Gustavus’ streaming service Swank has a genuinely impressive library of 2022 movies. There’s a ton of big releases on there right now, from Jurassic World to Nope, but equally impressive is its selection of smaller films from this year. A Love Song premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year and is the feature film debut of Max Walker-Silverman. It stars Dale Dickey as a widowed woman named Faye as she waits for a reunion with her highschool sweetheart Lito, played by Wes Studi. 

Faye spends her time camped on a lake in the Colorado mountains as time moves forward towards her eventual meeting with Lito. Walker-Silverman highlights the little details in this film, partially out of necessity as the story itself is one of waiting and placidity, but also out of a clear intention to bring the audience into the setting. The film makes perfect use of its campsite vistas with the film’s grainy pastel coloration that compliments the aged cast and the gorgeous visuals that are brought to life by the camera. We get glimpses of Faye’s routine as she catches and cooks crawdads, visits with strangers that pass her campsite, receives mail from the postman, and listens to a radio that always turns to the right song. We are given a simple look into the life of a woman who is clearly very lonely. Each time a car approaches her camper, she adjusts her hair in preparation for the possibility that the man she wants to see more than anything will be in that car. We get a sense of her loneliness as she wakes up every morning, her hand outstretched to touch an absent figure in her bed. 

So when Lito shows up there is an incredible beauty that comes from the fact that he is just a normal guy. What is seen in this film is not remarkable people falling in love in remarkable circumstances. Instead we see two widowed older characters reconnecting after decades away from each other. There is an inherent awkwardness in their interactions that humanize them far more than any grand love story might. They have simple conversations, reminisce on their high school years or other little memories of their life. There is a scene where they simply play guitar together while Lito sings. Neither of them are particularly talented, yet there is such a comforting joy to be found in seeing two people enjoy each other’s company.
Still, while the whole film plays out there is a looming question between the two. Are they ready to move on from their late spouses? It is never fully articulated, but the presence of that question is in every part of the film. They mention their departed loved ones often, Lito especially brings up his wife in a very self-conscious way, always telling Faye about how his wife was always the smarter, more capable person in the relationship. They’re both living in the shadows of their past lives and the people they would have spent their time with. We as an audience get to see these two people gently test the waters to see if the comfort of their old lives can be recaptured, or if there’s even something new for them to experience.