“ Genre: Drama / Parental Guidance / Director: Terrence Malick / Actors: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. Wilke ... / DVD released 2001-07-02 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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I'm starting to think it's just me that doesn't completely get Terrence Malick. I'm not saying that he's a bad director, but there's only so much constant artistic landscapes and philosophical musings that one can take in a film, and I just find his work goes a little bit too far into trying to make us see emotions as opposed to laying it out on a plate and glossing things over.
Sure, sometimes presenting a deep film that tries to make you think and tugs a bit on the bits you can relate to is often a nice break from the constant run of the mill brainless films that seem to be churned out more so now than before. Malick's 1978 film Days of Heaven is set in the early 20th century and focuses on a young couple forced to pretend to be brother and sister in order to survive. They spend their time tending on farms, earning a pittance and barely surviving. Richard Gere stars as Bill, and is hot headed to say the least, his temper often getting him and girlfriend Abby in trouble and at risk of losing the only thing that keeps them alive: their paltry jobs.
When Bill and Abby realise that The Farmer who employs them is not only rich and after a wife but also dying, they agree for Abby to marry him so that they end up with his money. However, where love is concerned nothing is ever simple.
I'm not completely down hearted about this film. The vast majority of it is slow and languid an heavily features the beautiful landscape of farms wherever it's filmed. Flowing fields and soft brown colours are actually used to good effect to ensure that we are relaxed when watching it. A lot of the film is in its visual power, with the three leads' facial acting doing a lot of the good work. Sam Shepard is effective as the farmer, while Gere's wistful smoulder is something he repeats in one way or another in pretty much every film he does.
But it's all just a bit slow and boring. The beauty of the film is one thing, but it's not interspersed with anything else to keep interest held. There will be romantics fawning over this film and spouting about just how damn good it is, and film experts do exactly the same. I'm constantly told by reviewers such as Empire that it's stunning and visually a work of art, and I'm sure they're right, but this just isn't enough on this occasion for me. Sure, I can feel some of the angst and pain and love that the film exudes at times, and it certainly has some impressive elements that are fantastically done, but the general overall feel of the film is one of constant over effort to bring across a tale of love, the success of which lies firmly in the balance as we try and see exactly where Bill and Abby's plan will go.
Disappointing then, if I'm honest. I can't deny the skill here, but the main issue I have here is that I just got bored no matter how much I wanted not to. As a result, I can't rate this very highly at all. No level of appreciative skill can supplement the place of personal opinion and enjoyment, and this sadly weighs heavily in one direction.