Best of… Series – 1973 – Badlands

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)

Even though Malick is my favorite filmmaker, I have only reviewed one of his movies here. Malick’s films are so complicated, so layered, that writing about them is extremely difficult, and there is really no way to fully discuss everything about them in reviews as short as the ones I write. But after re-watching this last night, I think it’s time to give a go.

What I most noticed this time through was the absolutely hilarious dark comedy the film possesses. Martin Sheen gives the performance of a lifetime as Kit, a calm yet deranged 25-year old without a clue. He falls in love with 15-year old, Holly, played by Sissy Spacek, who also gives a fantastic performance. After he kills her father, Kit takes Holly on a killing spree across the midwest. Of course, this isn’t your typical killing spree. Each of the murders are unplanned, unexpected, and nonchalant. And not a moment passes where you can’t help but laugh at just how odd Kit is. At the same time, Holly’s involvement is tragic, as she has really done nothing but accompany him.

Badlands is also a more poetic image of human life than I remembered. It’s not quite to the level of Malick’s other three films, but there are several moments where the camera lingers on these two just being young lovers. They play house in the wilderness, dance together, drive together, and have regular (albeit strange) conversations. The film’s music also increases the poetic effort, and the entire soundtrack is amazing. The whole thing is a strange experience. Never has a movie about a mass murderer seemed so mundane, but that’s what makes this film what it is.  9.75/10


2 Responses to “Best of… Series – 1973 – Badlands”

  1. I have to say that I completely agree with this review. It was a calming mix of regular and oddity. I’m not a big Sissy Spacek fan at all, but I was really impressed with her performance in this movie. Not that that should be surprising as Malick tends to get the best from his actors.

    • chrisfilm Says:

      Yep, I’m pretty sure Malick could even get a good performance out of Ben Affleck – that’s how awesome he is.

      Congrats on finishing your journey through Malick’s filmography!

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