Ain't Them Bodies Saints

The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

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  • ★★★★★ review by PRY on Letterboxd

    It's easy to get blinded by the sun. It's even easier to get lost in it. When you're stuck in the shade for an indefinite amount of time, though, you long and struggle and remiss.

    Ain't Them Bodies Saints tells the tale of Ruth and Bob. Lovers separated by the lay of the law. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck delicately portray the couple with complete immersion into that love that's suppose to last forever.

    Ruth is a scared and tired soul.

    Bob is determined to return to her.

    It all plays out with precision pace and an elevated beauty. The darks are dark and the sun screams across the screen, but never in a way that would overshadow the emotional torrent.

    And that wave surly comes. I sat through this whole film having just about the same thoughts on it as I did on 'Mud.' It's incredibly acted and beautiful and the storytelling is spectacular, but there's just that one little aspect missing. That one intangible that forces you to give the movie pause after the credits begin.

    This has that. The last fifteen minutes throw the entire emotional tide upon your shoulders in a definitive manner.

    I won't go through everything in the film but I'll just say all the supporters are fantastic. Especially Daniel Hart, composer of all original music in 'Saints.' It's a fiercely memorable score that I'll surly keep an ear out for.

    Many have said this film reminds them of Badlands. Instead, I think it and its creator, David Lowery, have stamped out their own places in the cinematic pantheon.

  • ★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd

    "i lost my place."

    more than anything else, this is a film concerned with the erosion of archetypes, and how myths are reconciled with the quotidian (and devastatingly humble) demands of the real world, and as an inquiry into those ideas i enjoyed the film quite a bit. having said that, i think i enjoyed the film's interests far more than i did the means by which it explores them (save for the gorgeous score). needlessly diffuse and jumbled, though i'd watch any of these people in anything.

  • ★★★½ review by Esteban Gonzalez on Letterboxd

    "Every day I wake up thinking today's the day I'm gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so."

    David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints was one of my most anticipated films of 2013 after hearing about it in the Sundance Film Festival, but one I never got around to watching until now. Despite having a predictable story, the film was appealing thanks to the strong cast and beautiful cinematography which helped establish a unique lyrical mood to an otherwise familiar tale of love on the run. The script is also well written despite a slow build up, but it includes poetic moments as well that made this feel like a Terrence Malick film at times. The dialogue blended perfectly with the beautiful photographed scenes in the Texas fields which gave the film a more romantic tone. I enjoyed the slow build up and the poetic moments which never hurt the actual pacing of the film. David Lowery has proved with his work here that he is a director we should keep our eyes on. The film is visually stunning and that is what elevates it from other similar films.

    The film takes place in the Texas Hill Country during the 70's where we are introduced to a young couple, Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), who are deeply in love. They also happen to be bank robbers who find themselves caught up in the middle of a gunfight with the police. Ruth wounds one of the officer's, Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster), but Bob takes the blame after they end up surrendering. Bob is sentenced to several years in prison, while Ruth who was pregnant at the time is set free. In prison, Bob writes to Ruth almost at a daily basis worrying about their newborn daughter and promising them that they will soon be reunited. Skerritt (Keith Carradine), the man who had raised Ruth and Bob when they were young kids, gives Ruth a nice house where she can settle and raise her baby. After four years in prison, Bob escapes and tries to return to Ruth to fulfill his promise to her, but the police are searching all over for him. He finds a place to hide out at his friend's, Sweetie's (Nate Parker) bar and writes to Ruth letting her know he will come for her and his daughter, but Skerritt knows that this might endanger the girls lives so he warns Bob to stay away. The question is whether or not the young couple can resist staying away from each other for their daughter's sake.

    A lot of credit for the success of this film has to be given to the cast. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck give convincing performances and share a lot of chemistry together. If there was no chemistry between them the entire romantic drama would've fallen flat because much of the story relies on their connection. Their characters are sympathetic and we are drawn to them as an audience. The supporting turn from Ben Foster and Keith Carradine also adds more depth to the film because they all want the best for Ruth and her daughter. The story is told through their emotions more than through their words and that is what makes this film stand out from other romantic dramas with a similar premise. Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a visually satisfying experience with powerful performances and an engaging climax at the end.

  • ★★★★ review by Milez Das on Letterboxd

    Ruth is walking angrily away, she is upset with Bob who said that he wants to strike out on his own. Bob reassures her and then reconcile and Ruth reveals that she is pregnant.

    The next day we see Ruth, Bob and Freddy commit a crime and run away from police, they get stuck in a house surrounded by Police. Freddy gets killed, Ruth shots a police officer and Bob takes the fall.

    Now after more than 4 years, we see Ruth and Sylvie her daughter living in a quite surrounding. Ruth reads her stories, sings lullaby and play. Their days go by. While, Bob escapes from prison in the desperation of meeting Sylvie and re uniting with Ruth.

    Written and Directed by David Lowery Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a story that holds a power love that wants to reunite. It slowly peals off every structure. We see Ruth still wanting to re unite with Bob, her longing for him. Bob and his desperation just to see Sylvie, the story he told just before the crime, him growing old, a house, his daughter walking in and him saying 'We are very happy to see you.'

    The movie has quite an influence from Malick's earlier works like Badlands and Days of Heaven. Bradford Young's beautiful cinematography visualizes every frame with a presence felt. I even saw a similarity in his frames when a character is walking alone, he tends to symmetry with the sun.

    Rooney Mara as Ruth shines in every frame she is in. Her scenes with Sylvie are bright while her scenes with Bob are a mixture of dark and light. Rooney perfectly captures Ruth's pain and the guilt which she hangs on. Her scenes with Ben Foster who plays Patrick who was shot by Ruth are the ones you can see her guilt trying to wear on her.

    Casey Affleck as Bob dives into his role, he is a fall guy and a man trying to re unite with his family. You kind of sympathize with Bob at times, but there are mistakes in his chase that still haunt him at points. Casey has that kind of body language that this character needs.

    Ain't them Bodies Saints is kind of a journey of these characters who are still running from their demons and trying to reunite. It has that feeling of the outlaws and Bonnie and Clyde. It already has Rooney Mara and Bradford Young's cinematography and this was just everything I needed.

  • ★★★★½ review by Ryan Narc on Letterboxd

    David Lowery is a director to look out for in the future. He has put together quite a simple story here, but what makes it exceptional is the outstanding cinematography (it definitely has a Terrence Malick feel to it, but thankfully not in a distracting or rather displeasing way), the mesmerizing score, the phenomenal performances and the immensely heartbreaking path the story leads into. It's one of those cases where everything isn't fully explained, and it's left for the viewer to piece together those aspects - and in my opinion, it definitely works here. Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a remarkable experience, and I look forward to seeing more from Lowery, and stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (I was just complaining recently about him not being in more films).

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