Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Review – Terrence Malick didn’t make this?

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Review – Terrence Malick didn’t make this?

So this was an interesting film.

Going into it, I thought this film was set in the west, but as soon as the first car rolled in, I realised it had to be in the second half of the century. It’s set in the 70’s, but the way they talk and act make it seem like they are living in the last century.

It stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck as a married couple who are separated when Affleck’s Bob goes to prison. The film picks up four years later, following Mara’s Ruth as she raises her three year old daughter and tracks Bob’s desire to reunite with his family. In the mix is a cowboy hat wielding sherrif played by Ben Foster, which is basically a less aggressive version of the character he played in The Messenger. Keith Carradine (never heard of him) plays Mara’s old foster parent (I think, this film is lacking on exposition) and is steals the scenes he’s in.

This is basically a Terrence Malick film with more plot. It has a running soundtrack that plays through multiple scenes, and also takes time to show artistic shots of whatever. There was a scene (that made the audience go “awww”) where Ruth and Sylvie (the daughter) find a pack of stray cats. It felt like it was straight out of The Tree of Life.

It was shot beautifully. Each shot was either sunrise or sunset, having that orange glow from the horizon, or at night, which had some of the best night shots I’ve ever seen in film because they looked like it was night. The darkness turned the characters into shadowy figures, and just gave the film this really naturalistic feel about it.

The plot is relatively thin on the surface, and I’m sure there is more depth to it (I picked up the metaphor or two in there), but on a first watch it felt quite drawn out. That being said, Bob’s escapade to reunite with Ruth and the Sheriff’s own personal journal were both thouroughly entertaining to watch.

I think Rooney Mara is still type cast in playing broken or disturbed women (Social Network, Dragon Tattoo, Side Effects) and I’m hoping she will break out of that soon and show us some more depth to her skill. She isn’t bad in this by any means, but we’ve seen it before. Affleck and Foster are also great to watch.