The Dust Storm (2016): A Love Letter (Review)

Poster for The Dust Storm

Written and co-directed by Ryan Lacen – Anthony Baldino was Ryan’s co-director – The Dust Storm is, primarily, a romance with musical overtones. The film also has its fair share of drama thrown in for the two likable protagonists who rekindle an old love affair in Nashville, the “country music capital of the world.”

Starring Colin O’Donoghue (The RiteOnce Upon a Time) and Kristen Gutoskie (The Vampire DiariesContainmentas Brennan and Nora respectively, the film looks at the two very different people who share the Nashville experience together. After the one-time lovers who broke up seven years previously bump into one another they undertake a journey of self discovery and, for one, self realization.

The young couple spend an intoxicating weekend together bar hopping and attempting to catch the fire that burned so brightly once before. Brennan is a burned out floater who still harbors dreams of writing songs and singing for a living.

Nora is almost over another romantic entanglement and she does not let the dregs of this relationship stop her from pursuing an old love. Of the two, she is the least likely to follow this ship’s passing in the night happenstance to a satisfactory end.

In terms of maturity, Brennan is miles behind Nora and it shows.  The singer/songwriter who turned his back on his preferred career gets caught up in the excitement of Nora.

Set against the bar and club scene of Nashville, where talented singers and performers gravitate to show off their wares, The Dust Storm features musical performances from O’Donoghue and Gutoski.

While the film focusses on the couple and their ups and downs, over a well-oiled time period where drink rules the days and nights of Brennan and Nora,  it is clear that The Dust Storm is a love letter of sorts.

Clearly, the writer and co-director has a soft spot in their heart for the music industry, Nashville itself and those “wannabe’s” (like Brennan) who never give up the dream.

If there is a distinct message from the filmmakers it has to be a combination of determination when pursuing one’s chosen profession and that looking too closely at one’s past may be detrimental but it is still necessary.

As Winston Churchill is credited with saying, those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. This too is a part of what Lacen and Baldino are saying. Certainly some parts of our own personal journeys are too painful to consider.

The Dust Storm tells us that not only is it okay to relive some parts of our lives but that it is also necessary. The pain of a relationship gone wrong, or two people who desperately want different things while still finding the other attractive, are all things that we have to face.

This long weekend of love, lust, loss and alcohol is an interesting glimpse into the lives of two people who could very easily be seen as “life’s losers.” Both are in a transitional phase of their life and both are searching for something.

The Dust Storm is a 4 star film. It delivers on many different levels. The camera work is spot on and so is the editing. The lighting is crisp where it needs to be and soft as required.

At a running time of 95 minutes, the film could drag, but despite its leisurely pace, The Dust Storm never really drags.  We are interested in these two people and want see how their story ends.

The movie has some very mild violence, a couple of sex scenes and some “adult” language. Have a look at the most recent trailer and see what you think.

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