Monday, January 27, 2014

249 of 1001 Movies: Days of Heaven (1978)

Richard Gere has never struck me as a particular actor, and even with Days of Heaven it's basically every other cast member that is interesting. Gere has a particular style, but he is probably the most emotionless guy I've ever seen. Terrence Malick though directs this movie that shows his early artistic skills. While my favorite still remains Badlands, Days of Heaven offers much of the same vibe and character development shown in his debut movie.

Summary: Bill is a hot tempered guy, and when his temper causes him to murder a man at his work place he must flee from Chicago, where he winds up in Texas with a girl, Linda, and his girlfriend. His girlfriend travel as brother and sister though, and when getting to Texas they find work there. They also find a possible fortune. Bill finds that they're boss is dying, and he has a huge inheritance. In order to get the inheritance, Bill convinces his girlfriend, Abby, to marry the farmer so when he dies they will get his money. With other people looking out for the well being for the farmer their plan may not go as hatched.

Acting: I did like much of the cast's acting. Richard Gere fits the role, but somehow doesn't impress me either as Bill. He works into the dynamic though. I think if you're not a Gere fan then this movie won't be that point you become one though. Brooke Adams is Abby. Adams plays the role really well, and even though this movie has little dialogue I feel that Adams ability to convey her emotions without over doing it on screen do a lot for the movie. You can see her conflict in a lot of aspects in the movie. Sam Shepard is the farmer, who has no name. That is what he is known as. To be honest you come to really pity this guy, and you hate that you pity him so much, because it's sad seeing how someone is treating him when you can't find anything wrong with him. Linda Manze is the character of her same name, Linda. There is something different about her, but the movie never discusses it or brings to light what exactly her whole role in this is outside of narrator. She adds something to the movie regardless though.

Filming: The movie has some really beautiful shots, and in some way maybe the story gets left behind in the need to create such a pretty movie. There are colors that convey the scenery in a lot of beauty, and it seems that over time that is a Malick trait that has been held on to for the longest. No matter what movie you are watching from him he is bound to bring you beautiful shots. Also, I can't help but feel the Coen brothers have some inspiration from Malick. The silent type characters, the oddities of the stories, the quirks of characters that are unexplained, and the artsy vibe that is subtle but present. Malick does have a lot of traits in his movies that do inspire.

Plot: It did take some time for the movie to catch with me. For about 30 minutes the movie is wandering, and for a movie that is only an hour and 30 minutes that can feel like a good portion of the movie. The characters don't necessarily come off as bad people, but what their doing just seems awful. You get to really caring about the guy they are trying to steal from, and yet you never quite hate the ones doing it either. It reminded me a lot of the vibe I loved about Badlands where you have a couple who has done some bad things, but never feels like completely evil people.

Days of Heaven shows why Malick is a talented director. It's a beautiful movie that by the end takes mold and runs with the story. If only The Tree of Life could have done the same! I can't say I love this one as much as Badlands though, which I was highly impressed with. The cast acts their characters well, but how Richard Gere became the actor to break out from this I'll never known.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

Days of Heaven (1978) on IMDb

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