Film Review – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Ain't them bodies saints

Title – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

Director – David Lowery (St. Nick)

Cast – Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine

Plot – Escaped convict Bob Muldoon (Affleck) must trek across the great plains of America to get back to Texas and back into the arms of his lifelong love Ruth (Mara) and his daughter whom Bob has never seen. Local police officer Patrick Wheeler (Foster) and old school criminal Skerritt (Carradine) have plans to stop this reconciliation however.

“Every day I wake up thinking today’s the day I’m gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so. And then we can ride off to somewhere. Somewhere far away.”

Review by Eddie on 22/10/2013

With just his 2nd feature film it seems as though director David Lowery set out to out Malik Malik with this haunting and unconventional tale of love and crime set in the sprawling badlands of Texas in the late 1960’s early 70’s. If it is indeed true that Lowery used Malik as a touchstone as to what he was aiming for its commendable at just how close he came and if he never gave a second thought to Malik’s artistry it is equally as impressive, as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is one of the year’s most original and strangely poignant tales.

Lowery’s story of young lovers Bob and Ruth (played by both equally impressive on form actors in the increasingly assured Mara and the ever reliable Affleck) is more concerned with using imagery and musical cues to set the tone and tell the story instead of a script full of wordy set pieces, so it’s to the movies credit that is captures such stark beauty on camera thanks to DOP Bradford Young and features one of this year’s best soundtracks complied by Daniel Hart.

Some criticism has been passed onto Bodies in concerns to Lowery concentrating to much on the images and construction of the film and not on the script, but critics in this respect are missing out on being caught up in what has been beautifully presented on screen, and while I concur that there is perhaps a certain coldness felt towards characters when there was room for the audience to really understand and feel a warmth towards them Bodies still invests in character growth and by the movies finale it would be hard not to feel some form of emotion.

Bodies is a movie that will disappear quickly from many people’s memories or to watch list’s which is quite the shame considering the love which has gone into it from all involved. While perhaps to minimalistic for your average movie goer and to slight for hardened veterans, Bodies is a film I strongly suggest you catch and for me ranks as one of the year’s best and also a calling card for Lowery who could perhaps one day sit alongside the top tier of imagery focussed directors.

4 clapping musical cues out of 5

22 responses to “Film Review – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

    • Awesome Jo – I’ll duck over today and check out your take very keen to read your thoughts. It’s one of those films I have been keen to see what others have wrote about, some who aren’t to adoring and those that really seem to have connected with it.

  1. Thanks for liking my review. You enjoyed this more than me, but we do agree on the terrific acting. Casey Affleck has a new movie coming out in December, “Out of the Furnace” with a great cast including Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson. I can’t wait for that one.

  2. I haven’t heard of this movie until now, and am intrigued. I absolutely love Malick; his movies are transcendent. To compare him to Lowery is to set up some really high expectations for me. I will let you know what I think if and/or when I see it.

    • Please do Jacob, it was a very low key release this movie but if you have a look at it’s festival roundups and some critical praise you’ll be convinced to check up on it I think.

      While in know way topping Malik’s work it really did show a flair for those traits which make Malik such a genius.

  3. It’s hard to explain in technical terms, where I think this film went wrong. My daughter and I watched it together and she loved it and cried afterwards at the end. I on the other hand was completely unmoved. I enjoyed watching the film but i think that the comparison to Malick probably speaks more to the reason why the film hit a nerve. It started out promising but as time went on all I could see was a film that was meant to look like something else rather than having an identity of it’s own. Kind of like a print as opposed to a canvas.

    • Very interesting Confused, I think it is the type of film that splits the audience a little bit some who as you say will be moved by it and others that will find it somewhat cold. No denying its beauty though.

      In regards to Google, mate if only we knew! I don’t believe it’s anything of our doing. I would suggest best way to try is always tag posts in a correct way seems to do the trick.

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  8. I just clicked on this review after reading yours on “A Ghost Story”, and I just remembered how I loved “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”. Everything worked there in this movie, and I wondered how on earth David Lowery managed to achieve that, since he did not seem to do anything out of ordinary and there were some cliches? Anyway, great review.

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