One of the more simple and yet extremely touching films of this years Sundance is Director David Lowery’s feature film starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. The film tells the story of a passionate couple, who would do anything for one another, and are caught on the wrong side of law in the midst of a crime spree in Texas. Tense, powerful, and poignant, Lowery’s film captures the raw and painful truth as many of the best westerns do.

The Players:

Sundance Synopsis:

Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, passionately in love with each other, face the pains of separation when Muldoon takes the blame for Guthrie’s gunshot to an officer. He escapes four years later, determined to find Ruth and their new daughter who was born during his incarceration.

The Good:

  • The Feel: This film looks, feels and sounds great. The color palate is beautiful and really helps embody the struggles of the characters. The costumes are extremely well done and most importantly, not over-done. The music is well used, and isn’t over-bearing, and when it kicks in, it’s powerful and highly effective. Overall, as with any western, the tone and ambiance play just as big of a role in the film as the actors and this film does a solid job at creating a beautiful world for this story to take place in.
  • Relationships: This film takes it’s time developing its relationships between characters and really shows you every perspective of this tangled web. Relationships aren’t an easy thing and this one is especially complex. Where this film succeeds the most, is that is allows you to take in all the moments, it builds your trust as it goes and it lets you experience this story instead of just watching it.
  • Acting: There’s not a bad performance in this film. Everyone in it, strongly grasped the world Lowery placed them in and indulged in it. Casey Affleck is somewhat of an indie champ, who’s no stranger to a cowboy hat, and though everyone in the film was wonderful, his performance was especially intriguing. Ben Foster seems to have one of the smallest egos for an actor, he shows up to serve the role and in doing so, is simple and yet wildly complex. Rooney Mara just keeps shape-shifting and with every film her career grows and she keeps impressing me.

The So-So:

  • Bit Slow: Personally, I was invested in these characters and their story, but there were a number of people who wanted it to clip along a bit faster and I can’t say they were completely wrong. This is one of those stories you either buy or you don’t, and if you don’t, it could potentially be a snooze-fest.
  • The Ending: NO SPOILERS! There were possibly a few more cards to play here, and it would have been nice to see the B-story come in a bit sooner and play a bigger part in the ending.

Overall:

This was a well-made film with beautiful performances. It’s not the easiest watch, as it asks its viewers to pay attention, get invested and come up with their own opinions. But if you’re up for it, it’s a solid film and well worth watching.

Rating: 8/10