Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)
An old-fashioned tale of life, love, and loss set to the sunny and shadowy panoramic vistas of lovely Texas. This Terrence Malick flick…what’s that? It’s not a Terrence Malick film? But, I swear the imagery and structure are just like…okay, okay…but what about…okay! Never mind I believe you…why?…I just checked IMDB. Now, regardless of who directed it, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” although overly traditional, even conventional to a fault is a remarkable reinvigoration of a classic, timeless story with universal motivations and rewards. It might be a little too lackadaisical for some and paced like a leisurely stroll. Yet, whatever it lacks in pure thrills, it more than makes up for with stunning visuals, attractive characters, and mesmerizing dialogue. It’s acted with a ton of heart and has plenty of staying-power to offer. While it wasn’t directed by the master of art-house Terrence Malick, it has all his signature trademarks and signals a promising career for director David Lowery.
How far would you be willing to go for a loved one? How much would you sacrifice for them? If any of these inquires and their periphery topics caught your attention, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” just might be for you. And if you know me, which you probably don’t, you’d know that the romance genre just happens to be my guilty pleasure. What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic. Plus, you know, I am an aspiring writer, which pretty much means loving love is a necessary trait…but I digress. Now, if you’re thinking that these questions of love and devotion have been asked and explored so many times over that they’ve practically lost all meaning and don’t apply to you, this flick will definitely change your perspective. One might be able to resist the intoxication of romance on other, lesser, weakly enthusiastic occasions. But when the performances are this convincing and the setting so beautiful, it makes even the heartless get weak in the knees.
Director David Lowry’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” really is quite something. An original, heartfelt take on the outlaw romance. Baring some similarities with a few of the best in this sub-genre’s canon like “Bonnie and Clyde” and Terrence Malick’s “Badlands,” which just happens to be one of my all time favourite films. Lowry’s unflinching, authentic look at a couple’s long, arduous road to reuniting is nothing short of hypnotizing and easy on the eyes, do in large part to his youthful, inventive style and endless talent. But make no mistake, it isn’t always a breeze to watch.
While not overly violent, minus a few exchanges of gunfire. The premise, the film’s characters and their collaborative progression through it to the finale is infuriating and disheartening, making “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” difficult to stomach at times. In all honesty though, the complex emotions brought on by “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is astounding and very intriguing. And when it comes down to it, a small price to pay for such a thoroughly beautiful experience. Not to mention the original soundtrack, composed by Daniel Hart, which adds another transcendent layer to the delectable cinematic feast that is “Ain’t Them Bodies a Saints.”
What’s even more captivating is the invested, towering performances of the film’s three stars, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Rooney Mara. If the staggering emotional depth and striking imagery doesn’t lure you in, this trio of underused and underrated talent is sure to do the trick. Mara and Affleck portray the couple who flee from the law until their introverted, romantic lifestyle is abruptly torn. Both do a phenomenal job exuding the love in their hearts and the pain it inevitably brings. Separately however, they are ruthless, strong independent sociopaths. As for Foster, who continues to stun in every role he chooses, gives another unprecedented portrayal. What’s quite perplexing and sort of ironic about the film is that Foster’s character is the most unprejudiced and passionate. Regardless though, the trio’s efforts here must be witnessed.
The performances and imagery more than make up for any faults one can find with the story. Add in some strong direction and “Ain’t Them a Bodies Saints” is a modern day “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints: 8 out of 10.
Posted on November 6, 2013, in Drama and tagged Affleck, Drama, Foster, Lowry, Malick, Mara. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.
You make this sound pretty good!
That’s because it is good :).
LOL – gotcha.
I am watching Mars again – I really like it : )
Geez, that’s it, I’m watching ASAP! If you’re watching it back-to-back, let alone twice in a day, it must bring the goods!
Let me know when you’re done – I would love to talk to someone about it!
When I first saw the premise I thought it was a variation of “Bonnie and Clyde” so I guess I was right. Been curious about this one, will rent it at some point.
It’s similar, but different enough :). Definitely worth the watch!
Great stuff buddy. Looking forward to this even more now :)
Thanks a bunch! Really worth the watch, just stunning.
Not a single unlikable character to be found in this whole thing, which probably does more wonders for the story, than the actual story itself. And while yes, it does rip-off some elements of movies like Bonnie & Clyde and Thieves Like Us, there’s still an ounce of humanity and heart to be found, which still had me connecting with each person. Good review Joseph.
Thanks! Couldn’t have put it better myself. Happy to hear you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Great review. Looking forward to this movie. Huge fan of Mara, Affleck and Foster, so his should be a treat.
Thanks Fernando! I’m sure you’ll love it, the acting is phenomenal!
Very excited for it, then!
Im giving you a Sunshine Award. http://videovortex.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/the-vern-gets-some-sunshine-and-shares-it-with-others/
I’ve heard mixed opinions on this one, man, but I have to admit that I really like the look of this one. Anything similar to Malick is in my cool book.
Yeah, if you’re a fan of Malick then you should really enjoy this, very visually driven.
Hmmm, you have sold me!
You’ll love it! Unless you’re not a fan of artsy, visually driven films.
Then this will have to go onto my watch list.
Fantastic review sir. Missed this at cinemas but definitely interested in giving it a rental. I know my girlfriend will absolutely hate this though, so I’ll wait till I’m on my own and lose myself in it. Or something a little less pretentious :)
Lol, it’s all good. We all deserve a little pretentiousness now and then.
Nice review. Really eager to see this one.
Thanks! Check it out ASAP! Such a lovely, immersive film.