"Every day I wake up thinking today's the day I'm gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so."
David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints was one of my most anticipated films of 2013 after hearing about it in the Sundance Film Festival, but one I never got around to watching until now. Despite having a predictable story, the film was appealing thanks to the strong cast and beautiful cinematography which helped establish a unique lyrical mood to an otherwise familiar tale of love on the run. The script is also well written despite a slow build up, but it includes poetic moments as well that made this feel like a Terrence Malick film at times. The dialogue blended perfectly with the beautiful photographed scenes in the Texas fields which gave the film a more romantic tone. I enjoyed the slow build up and the poetic moments which never hurt the actual pacing of the film. David Lowery has proved with his work here that he is a director we should keep our eyes on. The film is visually stunning and that is what elevates it from other similar films.
The film takes place in the Texas Hill Country during the 70's where we are introduced to a young couple, Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), who are deeply in love. They also happen to be bank robbers who find themselves caught up in the middle of a gunfight with the police. Ruth wounds one of the officer's, Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster), but Bob takes the blame after they end up surrendering. Bob is sentenced to several years in prison, while Ruth who was pregnant at the time is set free. In prison, Bob writes to Ruth almost at a daily basis worrying about their newborn daughter and promising them that they will soon be reunited. Skerritt (Keith Carradine), the man who had raised Ruth and Bob when they were young kids, gives Ruth a nice house where she can settle and raise her baby. After four years in prison, Bob escapes and tries to return to Ruth to fulfill his promise to her, but the police are searching all over for him. He finds a place to hide out at his friend's, Sweetie's (Nate Parker) bar and writes to Ruth letting her know he will come for her and his daughter, but Skerritt knows that this might endanger the girls lives so he warns Bob to stay away. The question is whether or not the young couple can resist staying away from each other for their daughter's sake.
A lot of credit for the success of this film has to be given to the cast. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck give convincing performances and share a lot of chemistry together. If there was no chemistry between them the entire romantic drama would've fallen flat because much of the story relies on their connection. Their characters are sympathetic and we are drawn to them as an audience. The supporting turn from Ben Foster and Keith Carradine also adds more depth to the film because they all want the best for Ruth and her daughter. The story is told through their emotions more than through their words and that is what makes this film stand out from other romantic dramas with a similar premise. Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a visually satisfying experience with powerful performances and an engaging climax at the end.