The grace and elegance in its whimsical acting and the recherche mood makes Badlands a serial killer film of tenderness. Its minimalism in plot construction gives it a common lovers-on-the-lam vibe, and despite its beauty, there isn't much meaning to the photography outside of a dreamy quality. The final act, however, gives the story meaning as we wonder why we are so fascinated with these killers in the first place.
Malick's knack for visual beauty is paired here with uncharacteristic philosophical purpose to stunning effect. An ode to Americana, Malick avoids the trappings that are seemingly inherent to films dealing with similar context and instead presents a spiritual reflection on the true American spirit, embodied in the idealistic Kit (who kills not for pleasure), starkly juxtaposed against Holly's return to slave-society.
Unlike Malick’s second film, his first nails the emotion that was lacking, and gives a beautiful, tender, and frightening view of young love on the run, and the recklessness of the free soul. His filmmaking is lyrical and beautiful, transcending its setting and hitting the heart of human nature and the natural world, and the inner longings, thoughts, and desires of his subjects on screen. Great performances too.
3 stars for Martin Sheen: he has our sympathies; we root for him. Also strong in this film is the depiction of this impression that I'm sure we all get of just "gliding through life" in detachment without much true care, just being led about and unable to tell what is and isn't.
Practically perfect. Martin Sheen as Kit is in a class by himself. That Malick had already found his voice so distinctly without a single credit is incredible; his instinct to eschew symbolism in favor of mere observation - and to refuse to judge his characters - is perfectly tuned. The visual style, while sometimes epically breathtaking, finds its voice in the details.
A fever dream of a crime story. Terrence Malick's directorial debut set him up as a filmmaker of epic caliber. The compositions of each shot are so grand in scope they almost require constant pausing to take everything in. Mixed in with an interesting story of brutality and rebelliousness, this film is a winner in every sense.
Yes, I do have to watch Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma and Louise (even though I feel I have, because the images of those films permeate so much of our western culture). But I did watch Natural Born Killers (not a road movie, I know). Watching this masterpiece by Terrence Malick, I realize that american culture evades me. I'm intrigued. What happens here? There is something strange that needs deeper investigation. *