Today: May 28, 2024

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starts like a film should end – with a shoot out. Bob (Casey Affleck) and Ruth (Rooney Mara) are young lovers on the lam. Their hold-up has led to a hold-out, and when the shooting dies down their friend Freddy is dead, Ruth has shot a cop and they are led away in cuffs.

This is not a film about what led up to this moment, but about the aftermath. A visually warm homage to the early 1970s in setting, in look and in tone (Terence Malick‘s Badlands in particular), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a love-lorn story dressed up as violent crime drama.

Bob is imprisoned after taking the fall for felling the policeman. Ruth, exonerated as a naive young girl who knew no better, returns home, gives birth to Bob’s daughter and tries to lose herself in the conformity of domesticity.

Besotted Bob breaks out of jail and heads across country to seek out the girl he loves and the girl he’s never seen. Does he dare return home? And if he does, what will he find there?

How will he react to the uncertain moves being put on Ruth by Patrick (Ben Foster), the very same local cop who took her bullet? Will Bob fall victim to the trio of hitmen put on his trail by an unnamed person whom he has wronged? Will he pass Ruth’s mysterious protector, the resentful Skerritt (an ice-cold Keith Carradine)?

‘Cos the truth is that Bob ain’t much of a tough guy. He comes up short whenever violence confronts him — and it does, often brutally, in the third act. A pussycat dressed up in criminal’s clothing, Bob just wants to go home to be with the women he loves, no matter what the dangers to him or them.

Throughout, Affleck’s mumbling Texan inflection recants the letters of love he sent daily to Ruth. They contain longing and heartbreak, want and need, emotions he can articulate in writing but not in deeds. She read them all, and kept them all; she longs for his return, but worries what would happen to her and their daughter amid the consequent inevitable flight.

Directing, David Lowery gives his characters room to breath and demands the viewer fills in some unexplained gaps in the narrative — are Patrick’s motivations personal or professional? Who is Skerritt? — while Affleck builds on a burgeoning reputation for taciturnity and Mara is both fabulously fragile and stridently strong as the conflicted Ruth.

Previous Story

Kiss of the Damned

Next Story

About Time

Latest from Blog

Memory

Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Abashiri Prison I-III

Constructed in the late nineteenth century to house political prisoners, Japan’s infamous Abashiri Prison served as the inspiration for a popular and prolific run of yakuza movies released between 1965 and 1972. In Abashiri Prison,

The Beach Boys

2024 sees the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys’ chart-topping compilation album Endless Summer that threw the fading band back into the limelight. Whilst this double LP release was a big financial

The Valiant Ones

The Valiant Ones was King Hu’s last, great masterpiece. Indeed it’s arguably his last true wuxia film — but what a magnificent beast it is. Directed by the celebrated master of the

Enter the Clones of Bruce Unboxing

There have been so many books, documentaries, and even biopics of the immeasurably pioneering martial arts icon Bruce Lee. His life and work have been studied intensely, and his influence remains felt

BackBeat Unboxing

This month saw underrated Beatle-biopic BackBeat make its Blu-ray debut from Fabulous Films, surely delighting the band’s collectors and completists. Telling the story of the Beatles’ first bassist – the so-called ‘lost
Go toTop

Don't Miss

Song To Song

You know the Hollywood system has successfully killed the wattage

Manchester By The Sea

Writer director Kenneth Lonergan, who won an Oscar for his