In the real world, childhood is fleeting. In the wild, it can live on forever. It’s a breathless wonder evident in the second scene of Pete’s Dragon, one that follows a moment of realistic tragedy uncommon in films for children. But if the moment preceding it hasn’t elicited tears, the visceral image of nothing more than a boy and his dragon weaving through an expanse of green as far as the eye can see, the world to themselves, will.
Director David Lowery proved his talent for disarming simplicity with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, an old-school fable of doomed romance and sacrifice that, like many before it, bore a resemblance to Terrence Malick. With little more than sunlight streaming just-so through branches or from a single bedside light onto Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck’s faces, Lowery was able to elicit inexplicable tears.
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