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Review: Female friendship is given quiet depth in So-yong Kim’s ‘Lovesong’

‘Lovesong’
Riley Keough, left, and Jena Malone in the film “Lovesong.”
(Strand Releasing)

Director So-yong Kim delivers her fourth feature film with a delicately wrought exploration of female friendship and intimacy in “Lovesong,” starring Riley Keough and Jena Malone. Keough plays Sarah, a young mother to Jessie, and lonely wife to Dean (Cary Joji Fukunaga). She hosts her college pal Mindy (Malone) for a weekend of small-town fun — rodeos and reminiscing over cheap liquor.

The bond between the two women goes deep but is often unspoken, a thin, fragile membrane easily torn by small slights and quiet misunderstandings. But it’s not just friendship, is it? There’s a haze of longing that pervades the air; stolen kisses and college confessions indicate that there’s so much more between Sarah and Mindy than a best friendship, but when that line is crossed, Mindy runs. Years later, at Mindy’s wedding, they reconnect and reckon with their past rift and unbreakable connection.

Keough gives an extraordinarily perceptive performance; her Sarah is observant, contemplative, living in her head instead of in the moment. But you can see her listening, taking in every one of Mindy’s interactions with others, almost jealously. Mindy is impulsive, mercurial, drawn to corporeal pleasures like a moth to a flame.

“Lovesong” is a character study of this relationship, casually yet carefully sketched out by Kim in subtle but meaningful gestures and glances. Much is communicated through the eyes, searching for answers in the void of what’s not said, but felt.

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‘Lovesong’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; and Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood

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