Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

This is one of those like my recent review of Enemy that I’ve been meaning to see for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it but I have finally seen it and here’s my thoughts. So here’s the basics you need to know; Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star as Ruth and Bob, when they get into a little trouble with the police and an officer is shot and wounded, Bob is arrested and prepares to go to prison. During the time Bob is being incarcerated a pregnant Ruth prepares to give birth to their daughter and is left to raise the baby alone. That is until Bob escapes from prison a few years later, and begins his journey to reunite with his family.

This is a (mostly) quiet character focused story with the occasional violence and gunfights but for the most part focusing on the mother-daughter relationship in a single parent household, especially when something might put it into turmoil. Right off the bat, I would say that this one plays it much too safe, keeping to the edges of their lives and the story without getting to the gritty detail of it all. There’s no real backstory to what happens, we see a brief scene of Ruth and Bob together, and the moment which is the result of Bob’s incarceration but that’s about the entirety. It creates no real way of connecting with the primary characters or to empathise with their love story which leaves a big gap when it’s the backbone of the story.

Having said that, the performances have no problems and they definitely work with what they’re given. I would have loved to see the quality of performance we get from Affleck in The Killer Inside Me but it feels as if there’s a lack of opportunity for that, the same goes with Mara. Both actors give good performances as well as supporting actors Ben Foster and Keith Carradine but there’s just not much for them to get their teeth into even as hard as they try.

It’s a shame because this is an interesting story with a good cast and a heap of potential but it isn’t quite reached because there’s just too much missing; it’s hard to create that care and attention an audience will give without putting something in front of them to grab onto. How can you really care about the fate of a relationship with very little information about it? It’s vital information. This is a good film that could be great if there was simply more to it, a little more time spent on building the love story rather than making the audience do all the work assuming that there’s some form of true love there would have made a real difference. As well as delving more into how they became mixed up with criminal activities would have given the story a lot more strength. With only a 96 minute running time there was much room for getting to the heart of this story, and a lot more could have been achieved. Honestly the choice to give this story so little to go on with such a rich concept to use baffles me, but perhaps director David Lowery will have more luck with upcoming remake of Pete’s Dragon.

Verdict: 6/10

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