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Review: 'Falcon Song' spins a retro tale in ranch country

There's an unfashionable earnestness to "Falcon Song," just as director Jason Brown intends. Inspired by '80s "pop cinema," he's spun a light drama around a young drifter who becomes involved with the residents of a Western town.

Gabriel Sunday has low-key charisma as Syd, a musician and occasional scam artist traveling cross-country in a recent pre-digital-tech era. After a job on the rigs, he's offered a place to stay in the nearby town and is soon in the middle of a land-grab scheme engineered by a mustache-twirling villain (Martin Kove, of the "Karate Kid" movies).

Syd finds himself drawn to Sarah Lou (Rainey Qualley). Her rancher grandfather (well played by Jim Storm) is in financial straits yet determined not to sell his land. He dons a wizardly get-up for Mason-like meetings with fellow old-timers. Weirder still are Sarah Lou's interludes with crystal ball. In her second screen role — after appearing with her mother, Andie MacDowell, in "Mighty Fine" — Qualley has spunk, however undermined by her spotless country-cute outfits.

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The story's wholesomeness could have tipped, rewardingly, into bizarro David Lynch dreamland. But it remains grounded, more or less. Brown's co-writer, Michelle Poteet Lisanti, is a vet of daytime soaps, and her sensibility shapes the sunlit melodrama.

With its developers-versus-ranchers intrigue and touches of magic realism, the movie ends up playing like a mild-tempered oddity. Brown achieves his desired retro aesthetic, and in the golden setting — the ranch country and oil fields of southern Montana — he finds a strong character in its own right.


"Falcon Song."

MPAA rating: PG for mild language and action.

Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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