Runtime: 1 Hour
and 35 Minutes
After seeing Terrence Malick's most recent film, "The
Thin Red Line", I felt a strong desire to see more of his
work. So I ordered the other two movies he has helmed over the last
27 years. Why he hasn't done more is beyond me, but thankfully what
he has given us can be described as nothing short of breathtaking.
"Badlands" is the film that introduced the world to Terrence
Malick's exceptional vision through the medium of film. It is the
story of a guy from the wrong side of the tracks named
Kit (played to perfection by Martin Sheen) and his naive girlfriend
Holly (played by a very young, but very talented Sissy Spacek). Theirs
is a story of lust gone bad.
Holly is all of 15 years old while Kit is some 10 years her senior.
Holly's father disapproves of her seeing Kit and, when she goes against
his wishes, he shoots her dog as punishment.
Seeing this scene, I really wanted to see something bad happen to
this man. Thankfully he gets his just desserts in the form of Kit
popping a cap in his ass for his cold and callous ways. Holly doesn't
seem to know what to make of all this, so Kit, being the smooth operator
that he is, says all the right things to get her to go along with
What follows is a series of incidents involving anyone from the police
to past friends, in the delusional couple's quest for the freedom
they believe they will find on Canadian soil. It all ends with a finale
that will most assuredly not be forgotten...
The film rides on strong performances from both Martin Sheen and Sissy
Spacek. In watching Martin Sheen portray Kit, I couldn't help but
wonder how this man ever could have fathered Charlie. Maybe the acting
gene skipped a generation in Chuck's case. Anyway, Kit is the victim
of poor decisions. These begin as the movie gets underway, as he walks
off his job with no good reason and end with........ What? You thought
I was going to tell you? No such luck. Watch the movie.
Opposite Sheen is Sissy Spacek, who gives the best performance of
her career as Holly. She is so genuinely naive that you immediately
identify with her. No matter how smooth you think you are, you have
had moments of that nature before. Holly has these moments all the
She blindly follows Kit along his path of destruction.
Holly also acts as the narrator of the film which after seeing all
three of his films now, seems to be a Malick staple. Malick's eye
for the visual wonder that film is able to capture is on display here
as well. The bleak landscape that comprises the terrain of South Dakota
and Montana is portrayed in a way that makes it appear hauntingly
"Badlands" is quite remarkable, considering it is Malick's
first film. Most directors would kill to be able to create a film
of this magnitude, yet for Malick it was simply the beginning.
If you want an introduction to the work of Terrence Malick, this is
the film to see. The fantasy that is "Badlands" can be described
as something akin to marriage. You know that nothing good can come
of what lies ahead, but you want to go along for the ride anyway.
Take the ride.