FILM REVIEW: 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

 

FILM REVIEW: 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

 

Date: August 30, 2013
by: Pam Nadon | Film Critic

 
 

 

 

Don't let the title of the new film, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," scare you off from catching this hypnotic work of art. This unconventional story of love, lies and ironies in life stirs the senses with tragic tension.

The title card reads, "This was in Texas." It brilliantly sets the no frills tone of the film. In the opening scene, Bob (stoner-voiced Casey Afflect) is chasing his girlfriend, Ruth (the mesmerizing Rooney Mara), through a glowing pasture. They're clearly very much in love with one another. She announces that she's pregnant.
He's thrilled.

In no time, they're involved in a shootout after Bob commits a botched robbery. Ruth shoots a deputy (Ben Foster) and Bob takes the rap. He's sentenced to 25 years in prison but escapes and heads back home to retrieve Ruth and his daughter. From the onset, it's fairly clear things aren't going to work out well for Bob and Ruth.

"Ain't Them Bodies Saints" is a profound piece of filmmaking. Writer-director David Lowery has donned many hats in movie-making, including editor and cinematographer which is quite evident in this, his fourth feature film. He has an eye for visually elevating the seemingly mundane to a level of astounding beauty. Lowery also doesn't fall into going for the jugular, but rather opts to construct a slow paced atmosphere of searing foreboding which lies constantly gurgling beneath the surface of this terrific film.

The casting is top notch. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck have perfect chemistry together as the doomed lovers. Although they share little time on screen simultaneously, when they do, it's breathtaking. Ben Foster is astounding portraying the cop who can't hide his intense feelings for Ruth. And David Carradine shines as a mentor, protector and keeper of secrets.

The title of "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" is the result of David Lowery misquoting the lyrics of a song (according to Casey Affleck). It actually has no meaning or relevance. So any need for further speculation on that count is now, hopefully, put to rest. That put aside, this one summer flick you don't want to miss.

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