Martin Sheen is such a force of nature in this. It probably remains his most interesting and sui generis performance. It's obvious that Malick is working very hard to find his style and for the most part it works. There are breathtaking moments in Badlands, moments than only very few first time filmmakers could pull off. Somehow this is the most gentle, calmest, meditative film about serial killers ever made.
I'm not buying it, folks. Landscapes, framing, music, and Oates's brief appearence are high marks. Sappy, drawling voice-overs, inconsistent editing, and a script that has small bite. For all the talk of poetry, I see very little, especially any sort of grand reflection on America (beyond in-your-face "James Dean" dialogue. WE GET IT, can see him.). Sheen and Spacek are more annoying/frustrating than Americana cool.
As far as visual poetry goes, Malick is your go-to guy. Though his first feature (and his most conventional), it is just as gorgeous as every subsequent Malick film. The use of montage, narration, and naturalistic acting is so whimsical. I adore the use of Erik Satie's music. Though few can say they are lovers who killed their parents and hit the road, Malick makes the two leads endearing and sometimes relatable.
4.7 stars. I haven't rated this??? Makes you nostalgic for your days as a young person on a road trip murdering people. This is probably not an ethical response to a ripped-from-the-headlines story! However, embracing the alterity of the world is never going to look like traditional ethics. One of the most quietly radical films I can think of. Disconcerting and phenomenologically beautiful! And that score!
Beside the references to James Dean and 'Rebel without a Cause', the film is a reflection of the other America - the wild and untamed one, when man isn't bound to a life in society but finds no place away from it. There is a lyricism in the midwestern landscapes and those two young souls, combined with a chaotic and dry violence, just like in children books. Martin Sheen is a worthy heir of James Dean.
Debut of my favorite living director. Malick’s simplest and most accessible film about two outlaws on the run reflecting much of the revolting youth of 70s America. Chemistry between the two leads was fab. Plays out like a typical high school love story, except this time Carrie and Clyde get guns and shoot people for fun.