Movie Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Ain’t them Bodies Saints has an underdeveloped narrative with a conventional plot and thin characters, but it’s saved by great performances, a poignant score and beautifully shot rustic cinematography.

An outlaw who escapes from prison sets out to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is like a story of Bonnie and Clyde in another time, while its universal theme and classic look make it timeless at the same time. Hazy afternoons, somber evenings, landscape shots of rural Texas and a simple yet effective score give it a poetic look and feel.

While it is a romantic story, the film never delves into melodrama. It’s subtle and atmospheric. Rooney Mara is emotionally contained yet intriguing. Casey Affleck is capable enough. Keith Carradine gives his spare character nuance. Ben Foster gives a memorable performance as a good old fashion cop, far from the crazed characters he usually plays.

Emotionally evocative cinematography and solid casting performance aside, the film has a generic plot, thin characters, and a barely there narrative. You’re thrown in the middle of the story where the characters finally get what’s coming for them. The characters aren’t fleshed out. These elements are set aside to accommodate the brooding atmosphere of the film.

Still, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a well crafted movie that builds up into a gut punching all-the-feels ending. It’s a typical art film – borderline pretentious (some would probably think it already is) with plenty of visual flourishes and short on everything else, but its executed well enough to produce a simple yet affecting unbreakable love story.

My Rating: 8/10

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