Badlands (1973)


Crime, Drama, Romance


Terrence Malick




Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri, Alan Vint, Charley Fitzpatrick, Gary Littlejohn, John Carter, Bryan Montgomery, Terrence Malick, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez


Impressionable fifteen-year-old Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) and her boyfriend Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen), a twenty-five-year-old garbage collector, embark on a killing spree in the South Dakota badlands.


Someone (I don't remember who) suggested me this film after I watched True Romance, and I was immediately put off by the fact that Terrence Malick directed it. His films are so long and tedious, and don't make a lot of sense, so who's got time for that? Then a few days ago I saw it was only 1 hour and a half long, I gave it a chance and something I never thought would happen happened, I loved it. And that's simply because Badlands is nothing like the other Malick movies I've seen. It is a stunning and fascinating (and slow paced but not boring) crime story.

The film tells an incredible story about two lovers going on a killing spree. What is it so incredible about it? The fact that Malick was able to turn what really is nothing more than a simple and quite shallow story into something much better with a wonderful, calm and friendly narrative by Sissy Spacek that is disturbing and poetic at the same time.

There isn't any character development and for the first time, I wasn't bothered by it. Sure, the story unfolds, tragic, funny and frightening events happen, and there isn't much of a change in neither of the two main characters. In fact, we probably know less about them at the end than we did at the beginning, and yet there's something charming about it.

Maybe it's the fact that Malick uses his characters only to explore the concept of good and evil. The film consistently portrays Kit as an evil man who just does what he does. He doesn't have a motive or a reason to kill, he just does that as if it was the most natural thing to do. He doesn't feel evil. Actually, he doesn't feel anything at all. He doesn't have any kind of rage outbursts. He's just numb and I think that's what's truly haunting about him and doesn't allow you to really see him as an evil person. Pretty much the same could be said about Holly. She isn't like Kit, she's just his accomplice, but she is equally numb. They both look like they are detached from their lives.

And the performances from Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek emphasise that even more. They both give brilliant performances, especially Spacek who plays her character well both on screen and on narration, managing to be emotionless on both.

At last but not least, there's the cinematography. It's probably the only thing I always like in Malick films. It's just breathtaking, each frame is stunning, and it conveys a mood of despair beautifully through its colours.


  1. Yeahhhhh! Finally you saw a good movie. This is another one I haven't seen but know of it quite well. Great review!

    1. Thank you! If you get the chance, please watch it, I'm sure you'll like it.

  2. Il Malick dei primi anni: ruvido, appassionato, emozionante, da togliere il fiato... un film culto degli anni '70 (in Italia uscì con il titolo - per una volta appropriato - "La rabbia giovane") che segnò profondamente quella generazione. Epocale.

    1. Sono d'accordo, per una volta hanno azzeccato il titolo.

  3. I've never seen this one but I too don't like Mallick style and this actually looks really good. I may give it a shot, I am on sick leave so at least that's plenty of time to watch films

    1. I'd definitely give it a shot if I were you, I think you may enjoy this one