Badlands (1973)

Film about impressionable Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) and her relationship with gregarious garbage collector-turned killer Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen).

For one thing, this film is very bleak indeed. Bleakness just pours out of every orifice. The violence is put across in a very matter-of-fact way as if the audience is just supposed to sit back and accept it.

The score for this film is very haunting and the narration of the central female, Holly, is presented as innocent and naïve as she transverses the country with her greaser boyfriend Kit. The lines of good and evil are blurred within the narrative. Sheen doesn’t have ‘SERIAL KILLER’ tattooed on his forehead. He is just supposed to look a bit like James Dean, if you squint a little bit. It comes off as the most catastrophic example of hero worship as he remains entirely cold and detached about the killings he commits.

Terrence Malick’s work is usually very visually stunning but from his other films I have watched they come across as little more than visually pretty montages. In this case, the imagery is not so bright but instead just feels so very desolate.

While this movie is not atypically perfect, it is perfectly imperfect.

MY RATING: *** / *****


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