Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★½

This is my second attempt to become a disciple of Malick, and if you take a peek at my rating, you can tell that I'm still not a convert. My first foray into his filmography was Badlands. It was a gorgeous film, but it had terrible (and terribly developed) characters. Martin Sheen just shoots everyone in sight. I didn't much care for that. Despite my bad first impression, I heard that Days of Heaven was Malick's masterpiece, so I finally decided to give him another shot.

Once again, Malick crafts a gorgeous film, which was shot mostly during the golden hour - that magic hour just after sunrise or before sunset when the sunlight has a softer touch. It really gives the waving fields of grain a rich, golden quality. Malick's sense of mise en scène is also spot on. The Edward Hopper inspired house looming in the distance is brilliant. However, once again, underdeveloped characters drag this film down from the heavens. We don't get to know anyone on a personal level. It's all surface. You'd think we'd at least get to know the narrator, Linda (Linda Manz), a little bit, but all I know is that I can barely understand her Chi-cah-go accent and she was beaten by the ugly stick (probably by her brother, Bill).

I guess I could dig through all the symbolism, such as Bill (Richard Gere) being fire, Abby (Brooke Adams) being water, The Farmer being air, and Linda being earth, to find the depth I so desperately crave, but even then there's still a barely cohesive story to contend with.

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