The lengths a person will go to for the person love are difficult to envision in an age of such apathy. But David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a reminder of what one is capable of when love is involved. Of course, when an outlaw like Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck, the less appreciated Affleck brother) is in love, there's no limit to what he'll do for the woman he desires, in this case, Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara). Set against the backdrop of Texas in the 1970s (which doesn't look all that different from present day), Bob and Ruth are prone to making mischief with their gang, but one of their heists goes awry when Ruth accidentally shoots a police officer. Love torn apart.

Knowing that Ruth is pregnant--and for the simple fact that he would do anything for her--Bob offers to take the rap for shooting Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster, who has grown up quite nicely since his days of being on Flash Forward). She promises to wait for him (and it actually doesn't sound like bull shit), while he, in turn, promises to get out of jail expediently. After four years pass, Bob makes good on this vow by managing to escape from prison. His escape affects the lives of everyone from his past, including his father figure, Skerritt (Keith Carradine). More than slightly irritated by Bob's reemergence, Skerritt threatens that if he tries to go back for Ruth and his daughter, Sylvie (Jacklynn and Kennadie Smith--that's right, it's the Olsens part deux), he'll kill him. Understandably, Bob is shaken by this threat, feeling that Skerritt has no right to tell him to stay away from his family.

Ruth and Sylvie

Naturally, Bob does not heed Skerritt's warning, and continues about his mission to take Ruth and Sylvie away. Relying on his old friend Sweeter (Nate Parker) to help stow him away in the room above his bar, Bob manages to hide rather effectively from Officer Wheeler. In the meantime, Wheeler has taken an overt shine to Ruth, who seems already wary of his advances. At the same time, she knows in the back of her mind that Sylvie could use some sort of masculine presence in her life. And so, she invites Wheeler over for Sylvie's fourth birthday. But even before Ruth takes this vague step toward betraying Bob, she has already written him a letter explaining that she can't go with him, but, at the same time, that she hopes he never gets the letter indicating her rejection--even though she knows his appearance will, in effect, result in their demise. Her only means of delivering this correspondence is through Skerritt, who, obviously, has no intention of being the messenger.

Promotional poster for Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Instead, Skerritt takes it upon himself to carry out his personal vendetta against Bob by attacking and shooting him. Bob, fueled by the vision of his wife and child, manages to escape with a "nick" on his arm. He then hitches a ride from a driver--somewhat less afraid of him than other people Bob has encountered since gaining fugitive status--named Will (Rami Malek). As the buildup to the conclusion leaves us wondering if Bob and Ruth will ever reunite, Ain't Them Bodies Saints knows just how to pull at your heartstrings at moments when you think everything is about to end fatally. But no matter what the outcome, together or apart, Bob's never ceasing dream of being with Ruth would have endured under any circumstances, as evinced by one of his letters to her in which he writes, "Every day I wake up thinking today's the day I'm gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so. And then we can ride off to somewhere. Somewhere far away."

 

 

Posted
AuthorSmoking Barrel
CategoriesDrama