You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Movies

  • Films piling up
    Unable to find her second directing project, Angelina Jolie took to sifting through “generals.
  • Spy tale's gritty reality unthrilling in best way
    'A Most Wanted Man' Gunther Bachmann may pull a lot of strings as the head of a Hamburg-based anti-terrorism unit, but to call this schlubby, chain-smoking, hard-drinking German intelligence
  • Filmmaker's agenda stands in way of smoother story
    'Calvary' When Father James, the shambling, deeply humane protagonist of “Calvary,” returns to his monklike living quarters after celebrating Mass or making parish visits, he's greeted by
Advertisement
IFC Films
Rooney Mara stars in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saint,” which opens locally today.

Movie Review: Talented actors adrift in story

‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’

The chief asset of “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is Rooney Mara, who gets more interesting with every movie. What’s emerging is that Mara is nothing like the way she looks, so that you get the low voice, dark attitude and hint of a turbulent inner life – combined with a girlish, lyrical appearance. It’s from such contrasts that movie stars are born, and it’s through such contrasts that a story such as “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” becomes possible and believable.

Early in the movie, she and her outlaw husband (Casey Affleck), living in the middle of nowhere, are in a shootout with the police, and she wounds the town’s main cop. The husband takes the rap for her and goes to jail, and she gets off and gives birth to a daughter. No one knows her secret.

A few years later, the little girl is a toddler and the husband breaks out of prison, hoping to reunite with his wife and set eyes on the child he’s never met. But, of course, the wife’s house is the first place the cops will look, so there are complications.

The film, written and directed by David Lowery, has a depressed yet ominous air, almost as though it were being remembered from within a dream. This atmosphere keeps the audience on its toes, and so does the fact that all three principals – Mara and Affleck, but also Ben Foster, as the town’s police officer – seem capable of doing anything, of going from calm to rampage in a matter of seconds. This builds up a level of expectation – not of violence, necessarily, but of something dramatic.

But the tone never changes. Scenes aren’t inflected, and when the end comes, it registers, but without much impact. Despite actors like these, who could have taken us anywhere and made us accept almost anything, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” just drifts off into its own melancholic haze.

Advertisement