‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ stars Casey Affleck as Texan outlaw, Bob Muldoon.
Bob’s wife Ruth (Rooney Mara) is his partner in crime. Together they end up on the wrong side of the law. They have an incident involving the police and Bob goes to jail. Despite being apart for years, Bob and Ruth’s love is unbroken. The bond between them compels Bob to escape. On the run, Bob risks everything to be reunited with his family.
‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ is a western that seeks to peek behind the curtain and do away with the fantastical elements of the genre. It shows the struggles and pitfalls of an outlaw instead of his gun slinging adventures. There are no extended fights and no clear hero. The story is thin and wrapped tightly around Bob and Ruth’s relationship. This shunning of western convention might have worked well on paper but on screen the film is lifeless and pretentious. Director David Lowrey mimics directors from the New Hollywood movement of the seventies, notably Terence Malick. The hand held camera shots and sparse dialogue kills what meagre story there was.
Casey Affleck is well cast as Bob, not sure if the same can be said for Rooney Mara though. Her character does not say much and looks concerned most times. Portraying this is not easy and I am not convinced she had the ‘presence’ to pull it off. The cinematography has been hailed but because the story is so unconvincing, the ‘poetic’ visuals feel pretentious. ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ only keeps your attention because you are curious to uncover Bob’s fate. Aside from that it has little else to offer.