A Love Song

Where I Watched it: iTunes

English Audio Description Provided By: A Group of Standup

Written By: Ariana Mendez

Narrated By: Jason Birmingham

This is how you do independent cinema. I hadn’t heard of this until it started to get some minor awards recognition, and then I felt like it should be on my radar. Come to find out, there is actually an audio description track, for a low budget indie drama that made very little at the box office, and you can just call me Sally.

Often we think of “do they have the money to pay for audio description?:, which is such a bizarre question. Do they have the money to not alienate a part of their potential audience? To Leslie does not have audio description, and some would point to it’s low box office and small distribution as the reason why. But that’s a fallacy. Indie films make accessibility important because it is, not because they think it will be a magnet for their film. I’m not even sure how many people have seen this. It has been well received, and yet, I guess Dale Dickey hasn’t had the opportunity to suck up to enough of her former cast members to get the kind of push that Andrea Riseborough had for To Leslie.

Dickey has long performed as a character actor in Hollywood, going so under the radar every single time. And now, as comparable actresses like Margo Martindale and Ann Dowd continue to rise, Dale seems trapped for some unknown reason in a world where her peers didn’t care enough to tweet her to an Oscar nomination.

A Love Song is such a simple movie. And I love it. I actually saw it a few weeks ago, and I’m playing catch up on reviews. i saw it before anyone really pointed out To Leslie was a thing. Dale Dickey’s performance here as a woman living off the beaten path, in a world seemingly her own, who is looking forward to reconnecting with an old friend is such a simple pleasure in our world.

So often, actors and actresses have to practically bleed for their craft to get recognition, or wait till their old enough to be offered the monologue of a lifetime. What Ana de Armas was subjected to in Blonde didn’t just demand an Oscar nomination, but likely an apology that she ever felt like that was what she needed to do to get their attention. Perhaps we now produce enough works to expand these acting categories, so people don’t have to get raped multiple times just for a nomination.

They could perhaps start recognizing the realistic performance done here by Dickey, who feels so natural in this role, it never feels like acting. She’s so good, that you couldn’t imagine anyone else in this role, because it would be like pretending if someone else was your uncle. She produces such a practical character, who doesn’t really seem to get caught up in the possibility of romance, and it isn’t until the end of the film that we can see just how much she’s changed, because those changes are so small, they inch through the film, in a understated and underappreciated manner.

And she’s not alone in this film. Wes Studi, another actor we’ve seemingly forgot existed, shows up as a former school friend, and one time hopeful paramour. He’s not sure of much when he arrives, but he seems content to play it by ear. And that’s what both of these lovely actors do, is play it by ear. Sharing each others company, and managing to say without saying. There’s so much left in the in between, a history we never fully understand, because the director has chosen to not barrage us with an unnecessary backstory or exposition.

For a story about a woman who wakes up every morning in the simplest of situations, A Love Song revels in the patience that whatever it is that is meant to come will come, if it is meant to.

The audio description here, done by a company I’ve never heard of, a writer I’m unfamiliar with, and a narrator I’ve never heard, was exceptional. it captures the beauty of the scenery, the outdoors, but also makes a very intentioned effort to capture the performances, the looks of our two old friends, and even the slightest shift in body weight can be captured. A moment of silence is often used to bring us even further into the film.

This is one of my favorite films of 2022. It may not be flashy, it may not be the film everyone is running around banging down doors over, but it is a film that if more people had seen it, I believe we would be having a different conversation. As I’m posting this, AMPAS is currently reviewing the campaign strategy of Andrea Riseborough’s largely self-funded campaign for To Leslie. I think, instead of doing that, AMPAS needs to revise why Andrea felt she needed to in the first place. Perhaps we should live in a world where all the films up for consideration are actually given that consideration, and made available to screen right alongside the loudest films with the money to blow. We may not be able to make people watch films like A Love Song or To Leslie, but certainly AMPAS can close the accessibility gap, and put these on an even playing field. Do you actually want the Best pictures and performances or do you just want the ones whose campaigns paid off?

Perhaps, if the same amount of people had seen A Love Ssong that had seen Tar or The Fablemans, Dale Dickey might have been an Oscar nominee this year. How about instead of investigating why indie films are sneaking in, you turn around and come up with a rule for lead and supporting that makes sense. So instead of She Said pushing Carey mulligan in Supporting, or The Fablemans running Michelle williams in lead, we fix that level of manipulation instead. Perhaps, a For your Consideration campaign should not choose the lead or supporting status, and assume that the actors branch are capable of determining that on their own.

Either way, I hope more people find A Love Song, even if it didn’t get a single Oscar nomination this year.

Final Grade: A

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