Director Terrence Malick’s beautifully shot period piece, which won an Oscar for its cinematography, tells the story of Bill (Richard Gere), an early-1900s Chicago steel-mill worker who flees town after accidentally killing a man. In search of a better life, he moves his girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams) and younger sister to the wheat fields of Texas. But they run into tragedy when a wealthy farmer (Sam Shepard) falls for Abby.
Brian – 3 out of 10
Have you ever been in a run down diner sipping a cup of coffee and you look over and see the most boring art piece on the wall? Sometimes it’s a picture of a crappy abstract design formulated on a computer. Other times it’s a shitty version of an expressionist piece that has been copied to death and you could swear you saw in several other diners but can’t remember which ones. Well, Days of Heaven is just like that shitty expressionist piece: somewhat pleasing at first, then quickly forgotten, and eventually completely obsolete but still hangs on the wall in some people’s minds. We are given several long sequences of an older America shot over the plains during “magic hour.” If you’re not familiar with the term “magic hour,” it refers to the the time of day when the sun is close to setting and the camera picks up the longer shadows and reddish hues. It gives a very warm picture and can be very effective in picking up a particular mood. It’s also quite beautiful. The majority of the beauty shots in Days of Heaven are shot during this period and have misplaced people’s opinions into thinking this is a work of art. Now, in terms of still photography, yes, this might be a work of art. But, as a cohesive plot that is designed to draw in an audience and give them an experience, it’s a complete failure. Have you noticed how I have yet to mention the story? Well, that’s because there is no fucking story!! You want the synopsis? Richard Gere kills a man, escapes, and gets in the middle of a romantic triangle via the backdrop of a bad diner painting. Why in the world anyone would want to watch this hunk of dung is beyond me. I dare any art house nerd to try to convince me that this is a good movie without mentioning the “purty pictures.” There’s long stretches of shitty dialogue where Richard Gere tries to find the best backdrop he can so that the cinematographer gets his shot. He mumbles crap that no one would ever say and then there’s more long shots of carriages meandering down the road, people working in the fields, and the sun setting.
I am telling you right now that despite its small 94 minute running time, you’ll feel like you just watched Titanic…..TWICE!!! Director Terrence Malick has a reputation for making slow films but this is unbearable. I can’t find myself recommending this to anyone. The story is weak, the acting is bad, and the flow is like frozen molasses. If staring at expressionist pictures is your idea of a good film, look at a painting the next time you’re in a rundown diner: it’s free!