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 (
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.
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.
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills