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Sundance Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Sundance Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), an impassioned young outlaw couple on an extended crime spree, are finally apprehended by lawmen after a shootout in the Texas hills. Although Ruth wounds a local officer – Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster), Bob takes the blame. Four years later, Bob escapes from prison and sets out to find Ruth and their daughter, born during his incarceration.

David Lowery‘s fortified feature Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a cinematic treat that’s a pair of boots – worn and used but a perfect fit. Lowery has compiled a well structured film that manages to voice the typically cliched romance-thriller-in-a-environment picture, but by having a different lens toward more defined picture, character and writing, the fast track toward Hollywood will come calling.

A down-home spirit grabs on the sepia-toned color scheme and entrenches its audience  (even with digital projection)  into a world of danger,immediacy, love and longing. Technically, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints  visually mesmerizes its audience by placing us in a moving canvas  of the 1970’s Deep South as Bradford Young‘s cinematography makes Them Bodies look as if they have a natural glow. The completely original score which Daniel Hart populates ATBS  manages to live regionally, past and present at the same time.

Casey Affleck’s Bob is subtle and smooth as butter, Rooney Mara is finally shedding her Tattoo and showing depth with a solid grounding of the Ruth character, while Ben Foster is almost unrecognizable as he fades in from the sides of frames and simply draws attention to his presence on camera.   Ultimately, a sign of a well polished Actor is restraint – all three carry this in spades.

So with all of this said – the question that I have taken away from Saints isn’t how a young Lowery managed to pull off what could already be a film well in the running for next year’s Oscar, but why don’t I feel anything toward this Indie wonderment? This film isn’t perfect (but then again, what films ever are) – there’s some uneven pacing, exposition that isn’t completely explained and a few rushed sequences that do add some nice moments but aren’t completely solid. However, ATBS still is an exceptional film that hits the majority of its points, and hits them on the head while doing it.

So should you see it? I highly recommend that you do – if for no other than reason than to see the emergence of a strong new voice in its Director, immense acting between all principle cast members and to experience a beautifully rich tale about love and the various facets of the emotion.  Saints is a specific place/time and if you are okay with that you will love it. Ultimately, I think thatSaints is a film that you will either go in all or nothing – just like our Anti-heros in the film.

Other notable performances:

Charles Baker as a rouge bountyhunter Assassin is terrifying enough in Bodiesthat you will never look at Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad the same after. Baker carries an ice-blue stare that easily makes you unsettled the minute he enters any room.

Note: the previous review is a partial article, for the full review, please visit Matt’s Film site HERE

– Matt Miles, Producer of Fresh Roasted Films

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