Ain't Them Bodies Saints (15)

Directed by David Lowery
Starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, David Carradine
USA 96 mins
On release from 6th September 2013
FACT, Liverpool

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Love Hurts

Thwarted young love in 1970's outback America. It's been done before but rarely as wistfully as this. Director David Lowery's noirish screenplay seems to fill time and space much more than that, as the unforgiving vastness of endless crop fields and dirt tracks form the backdrop of the tragedy unfolding across them.

A failed and pointless heist is the catalyst for a blue-light car chase that ends with one perpetrator dead and a bullet in the shoulder of chasing cop Wheeler(Ben Foster). It leads to a 25 year jail term for Bob (CaseyAffleck) who takes the rap, to save his sweetheart Ruth (Rooney Mara) who fired the shot, from going down with him.

Already pregnant, Ruth affirms that she will wait until Bob gets out. Her turgid days are only enlivened by caring for her newly born daughter. Bob meanwhile is writing letters on a daily basis to Ruth acknowleding that they might not get through. One does and he is rewarded with a picture of the only two people in his life. This will up the ante later on.

Ruth is now living a stifling existence next door to surrogate father Skerritt (Keith Carradine), while Bob has sprung jail by jumping off a work detail train. Barefooted he starts the long trek back to Ruth, who is by now wavering before the advances of the man she had shot four years earlier.

Resourceful Bob evades the manhunt and limping back holes up in a friend's edge of town drinking den. Nearly caught by Wheeler he confronts Skerritt who tells him to steer clear of Ruth - or else. As the dragnet tightens Ruth senses Bob's prescence and writes a letter to him before she intends to run away. It does not get through but one to some bounty hunters does, which brings on an inevitable bloody climax.

A great bluegrass soundtrack parallels the action as the leads go through a gamut of the emotions. It's dark cerebral stuff but a longer film may have tested the audiences' patience. Interestingly the terminal rush for the exit as the credits rolled was less pronounced than usual.

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