By Gerald Peary
Max Walker-Silverman’s first feature film, A Lovesong, is a characterful, humanistic and deeply ecological gift to someone of my generation.
A Lovesong, Directed by Max Walker Silverman. Screening at the Kendall Square Cinema.
I’ve been an old man lately babbling on Facebook posts about the amazing incoherence of Jordan Peele nope and the tedious, maximalist cutting of Everything everywhere at once. Both films were enthusiastically received by the young audience trained by Marvel Movies. What I see as faults they praise as happy virtues. Movies with potholes in the scripts, madly racing through space and time, are A-OK for kids today, high school and college. But nothing for creaky me.
Nor for (a total anomaly!) Colorado filmmaker Max Walker-Silverman, whose values and approach to cinema are blessedly archaic. His first feature film A Lovesong, is a gift with a bow to someone of my generation. It is deliberately thoughtful, slow, character-driven, humanistic and deeply ecological. And its main characters, a woman named Faye (Dale Dickey) and a guy named Lito (Wes Studi), are slow moving and past their prime Adult. Throughout the film, not a gun is drawn, not a moment of violence, not even a raised voice. And the one possible sex scene is cut off before it is unbuttoned.
And note and celebrate vintage cars: A Lovesong is shot on film. Not videos. Movie.
Walker-Silverman, who describes himself as a “cowhand, literary editor, and community organizer,” grew up in Telluride before going east to NYU for film school. He brought some of his NYU friends back to Colorado to form his crew of eight One Love song; and the cast and crew spent a month shooting in an extraordinary location in Southwest Colorado, with a lake in front and mountains behind and stars in the sky. The setting allowed for heavenly nature shots and a focus on everything A Lovesong‘s purposely little story. This Mrs. Faye has rented a pitch, campsite 7, and is waiting next to her caravan for her childhood friend Lito to visit her there. In the many years since their relationship, both had married, both partners had died.
Will Lito show up? As Faye waits patiently, a few other people come in and out of the scene: a group of young Mexicans planning to conduct a funeral, a mailman delivering the daily mail, and two African American lesbians wondering if they should get married. That’s the whole cast. Spoiler alert: Lito finally shows up and he and Faye sit around reminiscing; and whether they get back together is up in the air. More departure and some heartache, and there’s a dazzling night where Faye climbs the mountain and seeks solace in the glowing galaxies.
That’s it for the movie, and enough. I love these words from an interview with filmmaker, writer and editor Walker-Silverman: “I wrote this for the lake where I live; for the mountains I grew up in… all the different ways love can touch our lives, enter, leave, re-enter our lives.” Like many young people who grew up in the studio-made Marvel Universe, in that find nourishment in the pacifist creed of this pantheist filmmaker? “I hope to keep writing soft stories in Colorado and doing them with my friends.”
Gerald Peary is Professor Emeritus at Suffolk University, Boston; Former Curator, Boston University Cinematheque; and Editor-in-Chief of the Conversations with Filmmakers series at the University Press of Mississippi. A critic for the late Boston Phoenix, he is the author of nine books on cinema; Author and director of documentaries For the Love of Film: The History of American Film Criticism and Archie’s Betty; and a lead actor in the 2013 independent narrative computer chess. His latest documentary The rabbi goes westco-directed by Amy Geller, has played at film festivals around the world.