Days of Heaven

Days of Heaven ★★★★½

After being so taken with Linda Manz in Dennis Hopper's "Out of the Blue" the other day, I was inspired to revisit this film because I hadn't remembered her making quite as strong an impression with me in this film. Admittedly it had been a while since I had seen it, not being the Malick obsessive that some folks are. That said, this has always been my favorite film of his, blending perfectly his quiet beauty with a minimalist narrative, still his most compelling to date. Malick's tone poems are so dependent on location and landscape, with the plains and fields seemingly untouched by humans, still a new and barely discovered environment. The wheat being consumed by swarms of locusts is one of the most jaw dropping sequences in all of cinema. The cast speaks Malick's language, which as usual is light on actual words, beautifully. Sam Shepherd's craggy stoicism is a perfect match for Malick's less is more style, but Richard Gere and Brooke Adams do so well to quietly communicate so much with each other, due in part to discretion being a plot point in the film. Linda Manz as the younger sister is indeed quite excellent in the film. I remembered the character being a pivotal lynchpin in the film, as the soft but tough as nails narrator, but I honestly didn't remember her carrying the film the way she does. I feel most late era Malick films get so caught up with the imagery that there's no room left for emotion. That is not the case here. It's a shame that Malick would take a two decade hiatus after this film, because this is the version of him who I wished we had gotten more from. His change and evolution has been interesting, but it's kept me at a greater distance from him with each new entry in his filmography. I'm glad that he exists. He really is a one of a kind and I like that he speaks to such a lovingly specific audience. To me, DAYS OF HEAVEN is his masterpiece and yet to be topped.

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