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Badlands

Posted on

Everett Collection

Badlands

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
performer:
Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
director:
Terrence Malick

We gave it an A

Jean-Luc Godard once broke down the most basic recipe for a movie as one part girl and one part gun. Mix in a car and you’ve got a fundamentally American cinematic subgenre: the outlaw-lovers film. Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973, 1 hr., 34 mins., PG) might just be the best of the bunch. Now the director’s elegiac debut, about a pair of lovebirds who murder their way across the country, is on Criterion Blu-ray, looking more gorgeous than ever. (New EXTRAS include an engrossing making-of documentary in which Martin Sheen admits he almost turned down the role because he was too old.) Kit (Sheen) is a rebel who finds his cause in Holly (Sissy Spacek), the 15-year-old girl he espies twirling a baton on her front lawn. What makes Badlands more striking than, say, Bonnie and Clyde is that the lovers’ horrific spree is filtered through Holly’s music-box reverie. Spacek channels astonishing innocence, and she speaks dreamily, as infatuated with the sociopathic Kit as we tend to be with these kinds of stories. There’s something terrifying about watching characters kill out of doe-eyed amusement, like Romeos and Juliets whose destructive impulses have been turned outward. After catching Badlands on TV, Bruce Springsteen studied the real-life case it was based on and penned the 1982 song ”Nebraska,” which sums up the story with the chilling words ”I can’t say that I’m sorry for the things that we done/At least for a little while, sir, me and her, we had us some fun.” A

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