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Badlands [15]

Runtime: 94 mins

Distributor: Park Circus Films

One of the most impressive American directorial debuts ever, Terrence Malick’s film focuses on James Dean-lookalike garbage collector Kit (Martin Sheen in his breakthrough role) and listless schoolgirl Holly (Sissy Spacek), who embark on an apparently random killing-spree after the girl’s father objects to the pair’s relationship. The film evokes a postwar rural Midwest of near-halcyon innocence, despite the ever-present threat (and history) of violence. But what makes it so special is Malick’s sophisticated, coolly ironic approach to motivation, with Holly’s voiceover (in the style of the celebrity-obsessed magazines she’s forever reading) tellingly balanced both by the fugitive couple’s actions and by Kit’s oddly moralistic pronouncements, uttered with a view to posterity. The brilliance of the leads’ performances is merely the jewel in an exquisite crown.

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