Badlands (1973) Directed by Terrence Malick. With Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.
With Badlands, writer-director Terrence Malick captures a sense of America’s past that speaks to the soul, potently webbing together nature, humanity and the beautifully insane chaos that goes along with it. Alongside, it’s an involving story of love on the run, told from the perspective of an adolescent girl’s misadventure into the unknown – part accomplice, part victim to Kit, a charismatic, single-minded young man with an itchy trigger finger.
Between the use of music and Malick’s stirring encapsulation of a time and place, Badlands is a film that is capable of taking you away from the humdrum. The melting pot of nature and humanity fuse together to produce a dangerous tone that feels seconds away from disaster at any given moment. But it’s also life-affirming, in the strangest and most oddly pronounced way, that you can’t help but fall in love with the blind romanticism that it so fondly exerts.
As Kit, Martin Sheen seduces not only his young muse, but also the audience with his James Dean-inspired, laconic style, which is punctuated by a raging passion born of the need to love and be loved, whatever the cost. As Holly, Sissy Spacek narrates heaven-sent dialogue that is coloured by an affecting innocence and further accompanied by images that remind you why it’s good to be alive. An absolute, unquestionable masterpiece. 5/5