“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” Review


Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” directed by David Lowery, is a film we’ve all seen before, and yet delivers a unique experience. The film, also written by Lowery, is a love story about Bob (Casey Affleck) and Ruth (Rooney Mara), two outlaws who are forced to separate due to their crimes.

The film begins with a shoot out between Bob, Ruth, an accomplice and the cops. Although we don’t know the exact crime that led to this point, Ruth’s shock and fright after wounding an officer, Patrick (Ben Foster) reveals that the crimes probably consisted of theft and not physically harming people. Bob takes the blame for everything in hopes that his pregnant girlfriend will get away with no punishment. The lovers share an intimate moment while handcuffed, kissing and whispering to each other as they walk to the police car surrounded by cops.

Bob is sent to jail after taking the fall, leaving Ruth to raise their child, Sylvie, alone. Some years pass, and Bob, determined to live the rest of his life alongside Ruth and Sylvie, escapes from prison. A love triangle forms as it becomes evident that Patrick has developed feelings for Ruth throughout the years, even though, as it is revealed in a quiet scene between the two, he suspects she was the one who shot him.

This film definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea as it leaves many questions unanswered. The film is a quiet, romantic love story about two people forced apart, and that’s all you really need to know. Lowery has said he wanted the film to be like a folk song, and it was exactly that. In a song, you don’t get all the details about the background of the heartbreak, but simply the feeling of the heartbreak. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” does exactly the same. While many reporters have asked Lowery for details about the crimes Bob and Ruth committed or about their childhood, there’s a reason that was all left out. The film allows the audience to imagine their own stories for what takes place before Ruth and Bob are caught, while also relating to the feeling of doing anything to be with the one you love. The lack of details allow you to see past the criminality in these two lovers lives, and allows you to focus on the pureness of their love, which in turn, has you rooting for the two to be together again.

The film’s romantic, beautiful, quiet quality is attributed to three things: the cinematography, music, and acting. Director of photography, Bradford Young, did a spectacular job of painting a beautiful landscape for the film. The film is filled with gorgeous scenery in that perfect magic hour lighting and moody silhouettes to create the perfect ambience for the folk song-esque movie. To accompany that, David Hart created a lovely score filled with handclaps. Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster all deliver spectacular performances. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is not a dialogue heavy film, which could easily lead to boring interpretations of the characters. But the subtle movements, stares, and silences make the performances all the more engrossing.

The film is out now (August 16) in a limited amount of theaters.

Reach Managing Editor Rosemary Vega here.

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