Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013)- Movie Review

2013 marks the year of cinematic beauty. Visually,  Terrence Malick's To the Wonder presented the ideas of undying love in fields of eternal wheat, and Shane Carruth's Upstream Color discussed the eternal longevity of life, transferred from organism to organism. Based on poetic reality, there was the warm hearted Before Midnight and the youthful The Spectacular Now

But the most beautiful film of the year (so far) is debut director David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints. It is a postcard of a film: You are invited to see only small blips of Texan life that happens to form a cohesive narrative. It is a film with humanity so deep and soft, that it aches the heart. It is one of the year's best films, and a masterpiece of the decade.

The film stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster. Affleck and Mara are Bonnie-Clyde, Kit-Holly theatrical lovers of each other and of crime. The story sets itself up in the first ten minutes: After a pursuit, Ruth (Mara) shoots a cop, but Affleck's Bob Muldoon takes the fall. He is arrested, but not before knowing his wife is pregnant with a baby girl. As time passes, Muldoon plans his prison escape, and Mara finds comfort when the cop (Foster) she shot befriends her and her daughter.

Though it sounds conventional, it's Lowery's direction and style that make the film really special. The film always looks beautiful, and characters talk to each other like human beings, not just actors. The film, reminiscent of Terrence Malick's debut Badlands feels like a return to conventional narrative Malick, and it's wonderful.

The score by David Hart is also simply incredible. I cannot rave more about this movie. If I were to fault this movie for anything, it is the underdevelopment of minor characters. But that does not stop Ain't Them Bodies Saints from being a great film, one that marks the beginnings of a great new director.

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