Review: 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' wears its worn premise with style - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo
In "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," Casey Affleck, right, is Bob Muldoon, a low-rent outlaw whose devotion to Ruth (Rooney Mara) is such that you kind of wonder why the guy won't go straight, just for her.(IFC FILMS)


Review: 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' wears its worn premise with style
By Roger Moore / McClatchy-Tribune News Service


A man breaks out of jail to reach his one, true love and meet his daughter for the first time.

Many a country song and the occasional movie have been built on that melodramatic frame. But it earns an elegiac treatment in “Ain't Them Bodies Saints,” a spare, subdued Texas tale that wears its worn premise with style.

Casey Affleck is Bob Muldoon, a low-rent outlaw whose devotion to Ruth (Rooney Mara) is such that you kind of wonder why the guy won't go straight, just for her.

Within the first five minutes of the film, we figure out why. She drawls “I don't want to go to jail” and “That shack ain't no home” and “I think I'm gonna have a baby.” Ruth drives the getaway truck for Bob and his pal Freddy (Kentucker Audley), only they don't get away. Freddy dies in the shootout, Ruth shoots a deputy (Ben Foster) and Bob takes the rap for her.

He goes to prison and writes her long, aching letters that narrate the film. She has their baby and tries to start over, only that deputy who doesn't realize she's one who shot him takes to coming around, looking in on them and buying the little girl, Sylvie, presents.

Then Bob breaks out.

Editor turned writer-director David Lowery follows Bob's quest to get back to Ruth, the obstacles he faces and the complications that await him back in tiny Meridian, Texas. The action — which involves the legacy of the old man who raised him (Keith Carradine) — is less interesting than the characters, who are layered and given full-blooded performances by the cast. Affleck, in particular, has never been more natural in a role.

They could have set this modern story in the Dust Bowl, and Mara's rawboned features would have been right at home. She embodies a kind of edgy rural allure that makes the deputy's awkward courtship scenes feel just right.

And Carradine brings a marvelous weariness to a man who feels responsible for some of this and wants to make things work out, but who can't see that happening with Bob on the run and making his way back to Ruth.

There's nothing new here. Ryan Gosling's “The Place Beyond the Pines” recently covered some of the same ground. But it's all written, spoken, photographed and edited with such care — the soundtrack features violins, twangy string music and hand-claps — that “Ain't Them Bodies Saints” feels like a fresh and poetic treatment of a prosaic story that should be utterly worn out by now.


Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom


Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Omaha's dive-iest dive bars
Omaha's dive-iest dive bars

Omaha's many neighborhood bars run the gamut of experiences.


Dining notes: Famous Dave’s moving to new spot
Dining notes: Famous Dave’s moving to new spot

Council Bluffs’ Famous Dave’s is relocating.


South Omaha will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican food fest
South Omaha will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican food fest

This year, for the first time, South Omaha will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with an authentic Mexican food festival.


Sawyer Brown known for its 'Nebraska Song'

Sawyer Brown is known for its three No. 1 country hits and 16 studio albums, but here in Nebraska, it's mostly known for one thing.


Why is ketchup so hard to pour?
Why is ketchup so hard to pour?

Why is ketchup so hard to pour? It has to do the fact that it’s a strange kind of fluid that behaves like a solid. Sometimes.


Opera Omaha's 'Cinderella' is a little different, but story is still universal
Opera Omaha's 'Cinderella' is a little different, but story is still universal

Joan Font always knew “Cinderella” was a universal story. He just didn't realize how universal it was.


Live Music Calendar

A roundup of live music events in the Omaha area.


Big weekend ahead for Nebraska Wind Symphony

During a concert Sunday, the Nebraska Wind Symphony will induct two members into its hall of fame, celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Music in Catholic Schools, present a concerto by the winner of its annual memorial scholarship and feature a sixth-grader as a guest conductor.


Theater events listing

A list of opening and upcoming theater events.


Black Lips show staying power
Black Lips show staying power

With seven albums, the band has managed to stick around far longer than its influences.


 
Search
Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings






Read this!








VIDEOS

Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved