Bill and Abby, a young couple who to the outside world pretend to be brother and sister are living and working in Chicago at the beginning of the century. They want to escape the poverty and hard labor of the city and travel south. Together with the girl Linda (who acts as the narrator in the movie) they find employment on a farm in the Texas panhandle. When the harvest is over the young, rich and handsome farmer invites them to stay because he has fallen in love with Abby. When Bill and Abby discover that the farmer is seriously ill and has only got a year left to live they decide that Abby will accept his wedding proposal in order to make some benefit out of the situation. When the expected death fails to come, jealousy and impatience are slowly setting in and accidents become eventually inevitable. Written by
Theo de Grood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My first exposure that I had to Terrence Malick was Badlands. While apparently every critic (and the overwhelming majority of IMDb reviewers) would say that this was a good choice to introduce me to one of the greatest filmmakers, I found the dialog awkward and strange. The actual film, while very effective of capturing the beauty of nature (a staple of Malick movies as I later found out) was not all that great. Still, it had a plot and characters with discernible motives, so I was able to somewhat reason away what I personally thought was a bizarre and pretentious style of making films. Probably the biggest reason I can give a pass to Badlands is that it gave Martin Sheen, one of my favorite actors, a boost into big Hollywood films. I was then told by a friend that I should give Malick another chance, and either Days of Heaven or Thin Red Line would be a good idea for my second film. Needless to say, after sitting through this, I probably will not be getting around to another Malick movie any time soon.
I should point out that there are several aspects of this movie that are excellent. As with Badlands, the cinematography, musical score, and setting are absolutely beautiful. If all of the dialog and scenes with actual people in the frame were removed, I might actually love this movie. What I'm trying to say is if Terrence Malick made a documentary for National Geographic, I would definitely watch it.
The dialog, much like Badlands, is absolutely awful. I don't find entire conversations conveyed through facial expressions, staring, and minimalistic bombastic sentences to be good storytelling. The narration is no better, and managed to annoy me more than anything else. This leads to a fundamental problem of the movie, the dialog and narration is so bad, that I am not able to really understand or relate to the characters. Why do they do what they do? What are there personalities? I don't know. This causes me to not care about them, or what happens to them.
Another problem is when a scene develops, occasionally the camera cuts to nature, or just moves on to another scene with the characters all together. This got so bad that my brother literally called a cutaway before it happened. As a scene was developing that implied sex was about to happen, my brother said, "Huh. I bet its gonna cut to rain or something right before anything physical actually happens." Guess what? Right when something physical was about to happen, it cut to rain falling on leaves. The cuts in this movie are predictably bad.
This movie being pretentious is just my opinion. I am of the belief that characters and character interactions are more important than setting or scenery, and it is obvious that Malick does not share this philosophy, and this means that I probably will never like a movie that he makes. Most will call this good film, and I simply cannot agree with that. This movie is barely 90 minutes but I would rather watch Gettysburg than watch this again. I wanted to like this movie, and that may be why my reaction is so strong. I do not want to try to take away the joy that some moviegoers get from watching this movie, and in the end can only hope that we can agree to disagree about Malick films.
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