Sunday, July 28, 2013

“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” – Movie Review



This weekend in my movie class, we had a bonus screening of “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Keith Carradine.


When a convict escapes from jail to reunite with his wife and meet the daughter born during his imprisonment, will he be able to see his family before being caught or killed?


Texas couple Bob (Affleck) and Ruth (Mara) see themselves as something of a modern-day Bonnie & Clyde.  Despite the fact that Ruth breaks the news to him that she’s expecting their baby, Bob decides to follow through with his armed robbery plan, risking not only his future, but also that of his wife and unborn child.  After Bob stashes the loot in a beaten-up suitcase buried near their run-down cabin, the law catch up with them and a shootout ensues.  This culminates in the pair being arrested; although Ruth is acquitted, Bob is found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 25 years in prison. 

While Bob is doing his time, he writes frequently to Ruth, who by now has been set up in a new home by Skerritt (Carradine), one of Bob’s former cohorts.  During Bob’s incarceration, Ruth gives birth to their daughter, Sylvie.  Remaining connected to the case throughout the years is Deputy Wheeler (Ben Foster), who was injured during the firefight when the two were apprehended; Wheeler periodically provides Ruth with updates on Bob’s status in prison.  What Ruth eventually figures out, however, is that Wheeler has his own romantic designs on her. 

After several failed attempts over the years, Bob finally escapes from prison.  Carjacking his way across Missouri, he finds his way back to Texas and meets up with an old buddy of his who gives him a temporary hiding place.  While the police are after him, Bob sneaks his way over to Skerritt, who warns him to stay away from Ruth and Sylvie for their safety.  When Skerritt learns that Bob is trying to track down his family, he hires some men to find Bob and kill him before he can locate Ruth.  But will Bob finally be able to meet his daughter before either the police or the killers can catch him?



“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is either reminiscent of or derivative of similar, earlier films from 30 or 40 years ago (the adjective you choose will certainly depend on whether or not you enjoyed the movie).  Despite being eminently watchable, you can’t help but thinking that you’ve seen this exact same story told before.  Its slow pace makes it feel much longer than its hour and a half length.  Although I’m given to understand it won a cinematography award, I found much of the photography a little on the dark side (trying to resonate the mood of the motion picture, perhaps?) and as such, occasionally difficult to follow.  

The main problem I had with this movie has to do with the number of loose ends that are left hanging in the story.  Who are the men that are hired to kill Bob?  How did Skerritt know that he could hire them for the job?  How did Bob get a change of clothes and clean up by the time he reached Texas?  These are just some of the questions that left me more than just a little bit puzzled as well as quite surprised at the high rating the critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”.  Whether these problems come from the screenplay, from the editing or from a tight budget that prevented the filmmaker from shooting certain scenes is hard to say. 

Lastly, this movie has got to have one of the worst titles ever, which certainly doesn’t help matters any.  What does it mean?  Infuriatingly, this is never explained.  To think that no one could’ve dreamed up a better title is really hard to believe.  While this film may be a darling with the critics and get extraordinarily good reviews, I can’t imagine too many people wanting to actually pay money to see “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”.  I wish the best of luck to whomever is responsible for marketing this thing because they sure do have a tough job ahead of them. 


Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) on IMDb 7.0/10440 votes


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