If you remade Bonnie and Clyde, only realistically, you’d probably end up with something like David Lowery’s (director of nothing you’ve ever heard of, ‘cept this, yet) new flick Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Apparently connected somehow through funding with the similarly low-key, low-budget Drinking Bodies, this movie stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a couple separated after a bank heist.
Now, when I say “realistic Bonnie and Clyde” I mean: After a bank robbing spree, young lovers Bob and Ruth are captured by police. Bob takes the fall and Ruth pulls the damsel-in-distress routine, sorta, so Bob goes to jail and Ruth goes home to have their baby.
This movie is about Bob trying to get back to Ruth and the daughter he’s never met.
In other words, it’s basically all denouement. There’s a subplot of sorts, with some money that Bob’s hidden, but the real thing is his getting back to Ruth and their daughter, and so there’s never really a question of—well, of anything, really. This isn’t really a movie of suspense or mystery, it’s mostly just a dramatic acting workshop.
Which, you know, is a thing. And if it’s your thing, this is one of those things that is your thing.
It didn’t grab me, particularly. But that could’ve been my mood.
The acting is fine: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara (whom I found more appealing in this than the Dragon Tattoo remake or Side Effects), Keith Carradine and especially Ben Foster, who plays a good-hearted sheriff who’s attracted to Mara’s character. Ben Foster and Nate Parker, who plays a friend to Casey Affleck’s character, struck me as the most interesting.
But, look, this is a low-key dramatic workshop. Even Bob’s struggle to get back to his wife and daughter seem almost perfunctory. There’s an intensity to Affleck’s demeanor (as always) but this is one of those movies that seems to regard as sorcery the sorts of camerawork and pacing that would give the intensity a Bigger Than Life feel. Lots of stretches without music, though as I recall it, the music there is is good.
Couldn’t quite place the time period. Early ’70s, I thought, though apparently the ambiguity was deliberate. So, there’s that.
The kids were not greatly impressed. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. Interested but not enthused. I think this is the kind of movie most people are going to be “meh” about but some people are really going to adore it. I couldn’t even swear that I might not be one of those people, under different circumstances.