Ain't Them Bodies Saints - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
DAVID Lowery may just have delivered one of the American independent films of the year with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Part crime drama, part love story, Lowery’s film may owe a lot stylistically to Terrence Malick but it has a greater sense of urgency and is genuinely emotionally involving.
Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and pregnant wife Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara) are two outlaws on the run who quickly find themselves cornered by lawmen. Initially attempting to shoot their way out, Ruth wounds officer Patrick Wheller (Ben Foster), an action for which Bob takes the blame and is ultimately sent to prison.
Years later, desperate to see his son, Bob escapes in a bid to be reunited with Ruth, but must remain careful to avoid the attentions of the law, including Patrick who has now taken Ruth under his wing, and former criminal colleagues who want to get their hands on Bob’s hidden loot.
Lowery’s film has all the elements of countless classic crime sagas but feels much less derivative than it could. And much of this is down to just how emotionally compelling the film is thanks in no small part to some great performances.
Affleck is terrific as Bob, whose mounting sense of desperation is palpable (coupled with his sense of loss) and Mara is his equal as a woman torn apart by guilt and love. But the real star of the show is Foster, whose sympathetic lawman offers him a rare chance to shine in a good guy role.
There’s strong support, too, from the likes of Keith Carradine and Nate Parker, while Lowery’s script offers a complex portrait of frustrated yet devoted love, as well as second chances and the impact of secrets upon people’s lives.
His film may be slow-burning at times (and its pacing may frustrate some) but for those willing to fully participate in its journey, there is a genuinely poignant and emotionally affecting conclusion to be reached.
It is a film that will stay with you for some time afterwards, marking out Lowery as a talent to watch.
Running time: 96mins
UK Release Date: September 6, 2013