Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is the rare kind of movie; memorable and forgettable in equal parts. It’s the breakout movie – relatively speaking – of director David Lowery, a veteran indie filmmaker whom has also worked regularly as an editor.
Lowery’s movie stars Rooney Mara as Ruth and Casey Affleck as Bob, two outlaws from Texas separated for years after a frantic crime gone wrong. Ruth shoots a police officer; Bob takes the blame and is sent away to prison. During Bob’s years locked up, Ruth has his daughter and she intends to stay loyal and in love with the man whom has done so much with and for her. That grows difficult when Patrick (Ben Foster) arrives.
A deputy that knows of Ruth’s situation, Patrick looks to ensure some sense of normalcy for her, which as such stories go, evolves into something more. Bob eventually learns of his daughter’s birth and plots to see her and Ruth again, a decision that is met by nothing but complications.
Lowery’s writing and direction is solemn, borderline wispy at times. The shots he composes with cinematographer Bradford Young are lush; sunlight slipping through the cracks of tree branches and heat that emanates through the windows. It’s all well constructed, with good performances by Mara, Affleck and Foster to boot. Yet, something is missing in the telling of this tale. Loss and regret is conveyed and never felt, due in part to the quietness of it all. Most scenes are presented in a serious, no smiles allowed tone. When things get narratively vital, it feels no different than what was presented minutes before.
It’s a weird mixture. No plot point sticks out as superfluous, yet the editing of them altogether echoes as shallow.
Aint’t Them Bodies Saints opens in limited release in Seattle tomorrow.