Posted on 10/10/12 10:25 AM
The first twenty or thirty minutes of Badlands are some of the best stuff I've seen recently (actually up to the point where Kit kills Holly's father).
After that, it's a gorgeously shot movie about a naive, dreamy, young girl and a sociopath who hide in the woods and badlands of the Mid-East to evade their prosecutors.
This is the first film where I acknowledged how much Martin Sheen looks like a combination of Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen and how well he can transform in a James Dean-type greaser. It's also suprising how young a 24-years old Sissy Spacek looks in this. Normally, it's kinda distracting when mid-twens play high schoolers but in Badlands you completely buy Spacek as 15-year old Holly.
The transformation of the mild-mannered white trash Kit to the sociopath who kills everyone who follows the couple is partly surprising, partly disturbing and although the South Dakota/Montana prairie makes a neat background for landscape shots I preferred the slow build-up of the unlikely relationship of the two and their quarrels with Holly's dad.
Anyways, as I'm exploring Terry Malick's work Badlands takes the second place behind only The Thin Red Line (haven't seen Days of Heaven and The New World yet). Luckily, his filmography is not very big so I'll have an easy time catching up with him and check him off from my list.
It's the least Malick-ish film I've seen from him yet. Less philosophical and grand but with an actual plot and human drama. This was before he fell in a twenty year delirium of crazy thoughts and philosophical ideas and you can feel the freshness of the filmmaker mind in it (especially compared to his bloated later works). Although his visual style is apparent and his love for extended voice-over passages carries the movie.
A highly praised film where I can agree with the rest of the universe.