A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ain't Them Bodies Saints is a stylized, atmospheric indie drama that's part Western, part relationship drama. Chronicling the intense romance between an outlaw and his bride, the movie has been compared to both Bonnie and Clyde and Badlands, and you can expect a fair amount of gun violence and on-screen death. There's also some language ("s--t," "a--hole"), but this is ultimately a love story, so there's a romantic undercurrent to the plot -- and some flashbacks to the passion between the central characters (no actual sex scenes, though). Because of the mood and the adult themes, this is a drama best reserved for mature teens.
What's the story?
A 2013 Sundance Film Festival winner for cinematography, AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS follows the impassioned relationship between Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), a 1970s outlaw couple apprehended after a gun fight with Texas police officers. Bob takes the fall for the shoot-out, despite pregnant Ruth's involvement, and is sentenced to many years in prison -- while his wife gives birth to a baby girl. Four years later, after five failed attempts, Bob successfully breaks out of prison to reunite with Ruth and their now 4-year-old daughter. But Patrick (Ben Foster) -- a benevolent young sheriff who's smitten with Ruth -- and three ruthlessly determined bounty hunters stand in the way of Bob and Ruth's family reunion.
Is it any good?
Audiences who appreciate slow, steady, atmospheric films will consider this indie Western a hidden gem. Writer-director David Lowery and cinematographer Bradford Young (Pariah, Middle of Nowhere) are clearly disciples of the Terrence Malick school of filmmaking: gorgeous visuals with plenty of poignant close-ups; poetic monologizing; slow, deliberate pacing; and drama that's more about characterization than plot development.
The story is quite simple, but that's fine, because this is a drama about moments, about remembering a love so fierce that no prison could contain it. Bob escapes captivity, and, instead of fleeing to freedom in Mexico, he's intent on finding his wife and daughter. But before the inevitable reunion can take place, Bob has to outsmart (or outrun) the bounty hunters and get past Patrick, who's a remarkably kind and forgiving man. Mara, Affleck, and Foster all give brilliant performances in a movie that could have been made decades ago but still feels remarkably current.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the amount of violence in Ain't Them Bodies Saints. How is it reminiscent of a Western? In what ways does the end deviate from a typical Western ending?
Some people have said the movie seems like it's set in another century, even though there are clearly more contemporary elements. What gives the movie that period feel?
Compare the movie to other love stories about outlaws or criminals. What makes this one unique?
- In theaters: August 16, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 17, 2013
- Cast: Ben Foster, Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
- Director: David Lowery
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence
- Last updated: November 24, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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