Sunday, September 08, 2013


AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS is a handsome but derivative drama from first-time feature director David Lowery. It owes all its award-winning cinematographical style and thematic concern to Terrence Mallick - at best a homage and at worst a pastiche.  It's all dappled sunlight across flowing wheatfields and a moody melancholic folk violin score.  There's the omnipresent voice-over and young lovers pitted against impersonal forces.  That the movie is for the most part well-cast is just a waste of talent.

The movie stars Casey Affleck as Rooney Mara as young couple Bob and Ruth living in the rural South.  Early on, they carry out a heist that goes bad and Bob takes the jail-time to allow the pregnant Ruth to raise their daughter in safety - their only communication doleful letters. Four years later, Bob escapes and makes the journey home pursued by bounty hunters, while Ruth is courted by the local sheriff (Ben Foster) and sheltered by Bob's father (Keith Carradine.)

The resulting film is slow-paced to the point of tedium. There are shoot-outs but this isn't a heist film. The emotional chords are stretched so far they snap and while nicely done, the film just feels sub-Mallick. To be honest, you'd more profitably spend your time re-watching BADLANDS.

AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS has a running time of 96 minutes and is rated R.   The film played Sundance, where Bradford Young won the cinematography award, and Cannes 2013 and was released earlier this year in the USA. It is currently on release in the UK, Ireland and Israel. It opens later in September in France, in October in Greece and Singapore, in November in Belgium, in December in Sweden and Turkey, in March 2014 in the Netherlands and Japan, in May in Spain and in July in Brazil. 

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