November 2, 2015

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

David Lowery, 2013
On paper the idea of a southern rom-dram starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara is interesting. The two, both accomplished actors, have been part of some of the best films to come out within the past twenty years. Affleck himself has played the criminal on the run before, in the very much under-rated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. He's certainly playing a cousin of his Robert Ford character, an elusive untrustworthy soft-speaking figure that has hints of innocence behind obvious youthful naivete. But there is a vast difference between Ain't them Bodies and Jesse James. Bodies is basically a game of cat and mouse with a ticking clock. Bob Muldoon (Affleck), after many attempts of escaping prison, has finally managed to escape and very predictably is planning reuniting with his love Ruth (Mara). Their early moments spent together on screen were the two of them participating in a very Bonnie & Clyde-like excursion. One that left one of their partners in crime dead and an officer shot. Pregnant Ruth is spared prosecution while Bob takes the fall and gets the book thrown at him. The people around Ruth figure that having the child and being separated from Bob will be a good opportunity for her to have a normal life that doesn't involve criminal acts. Standing in between the pairs fateful reunion is father figure / neighbor Skerritt (Keith Carradine) and local cop Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster).

It's a story that doesn't feel all that gripping or even original for that matter. It feels like a dull whispery drama that could have been something better. The Bob character doesn't really feel like a character worth getting behind. Their love together never really feels like much more than a lot of young body rubbing that inadvertently created a little daughter. Mara, who probably provides the most compelling performance in the film, is not much more than a woman that is mired in indecision on whether or not to be the reformed mother or continue to like the bad boys. The dim lighting, the cold aluminum siding, the shadow-ridden barn that Bob hides in, are all failed attempts at creating any visual impressions. Bodies is a forgettable picture that doesn't hide it's admiration for Bonnie and Clyde but completely lacks the greatness of it.

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