|AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS (director/writer: David Lowery; cinematographer: Bradford Young; editors: Craig McKay/Jane Rizzo/Patrick M. Knickelbine; music: Daniel Hart; cast: Rooney Mara (Ruth Guthrie), Casey Affleck (Bob Muldoon), Ben Foster (Patrick Wheeler), Keith Carradine (Skerritt), Nate Parker (Sweetie)Kennadie Smith/Jacklynn Smith (Sylvie Guthrie); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Lars Knudsen/Jay Van Hoy/James M. Johnston/Toby Halbrooks/Cassian Elwes/Amy Kaufman; IFC Films; 2013)|
|"Lyrical reverie of all
feeling and no action."
by Dennis Schwartz
Lowery' ("St. Nick"/"Deadroom"/"Lullaby") poetic title is derived
from a country song. Lowery's pic strains for poetical
meaning, as it aims to capture the last gasps of a
changing America still foolishly in love with the Old
West and its no longer plausible romantic myths. This
1970s folk tale is set in the Texas Hills and its
bleak moody story and mannered dialogue reminds one of
Malick lyrical reverie of all feeling and no action.
Wanted young Texas outlaw robbers Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and
Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara) are trapped in a farmhouse
by a bunch of Texas Rangers, and during the shoot-out
Bob's crime partner is killed and Ruth wings the deputy Patrick Wheeler
(Ben Foster) and Bob gallantly takes the blame to the
tune of a stiff 25-year sentence, as the couple
surrender without more of a fight.
The slow-moving pic fast
forwards to four years later and the acquitted Ruth
has given birth to Bob's daughter Sylvie (twins Kennadie and
now aged 4, with the couple being consummate letter
writers. Meanwhile Bob, unable to handle the long
sentence and wanting most of all to be with his
family, succeeds in escaping, in his sixth try, and
tries to figure out how he will see Ruth again, as
promised, and the daughter he never met, with the
police watching his wife's house. Meanwhile the
conflicted Ruth, given a farmhouse by Bob's surrogate
father, a somber white-haired shopowner, Skerritt (Keith Carradine), begins a cautious
romance with the chivalrous deputy she shot.
The story never reaches
epic proportions as imagined by the director and
settles into a familiar but quirky shot small-town
soap opera one, where family values are admired but
hard to be realized. The melancholy drama's intrinsic
value is in the raw emotions exposed in the love
triangle that reveals the agony of the three wounded
souls, all glumly looking for themselves in the sleepy town of
Meridian, Texas, where every would-be cowboy is looking good in
their cowboy hats whether a good or a bad sort. Good
acting triumphs over a shallow and pretentious script.
REVIEWED ON 9/21/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ