SXSW Review: “Lover, Beloved”

-Allison McCulloch

78 minutes | USA | 2022

Director: Michael Tully
Screenwriter: Suzanne Vega
Cinematographer: Amy Bench
Editor: Michael Carter

“How I love you. How I loathe you.”

Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega of “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner” fame created a one-woman stage show called Lover, Beloved about the life of writer Carson McCullers and released an accompanying album of the same name. The film version blends music, theater, and film and opens the door to McCullers’ world. After the wild success of her 1940 novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, McCullers rose to fame. Vega discusses McCullers’ insecurities and passions and doesn’t shy away from noting her same-sex relationships.

“Who knows how much time there is, so we must celebrate what we can.”

Reminding me of Paul Schrader who listed his own film The Card Counter as the top film of 2021, Vega’s McCullers feels superior to Truman Capote, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Marcel Proust, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and of course, Harper Lee, in the hysterical song “Harper Lee”. All songs were co-written with Duncan Sheik.

SXSW really was the perfect place to premiere the film, as it was filmed in Austin, Texas. Vega’s exploration of Carson McCullers feels complete as it explores a flawed woman who still loves the world.

Vega will be performing a SXSW showcase at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church at 10pm CT on March 18.

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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