You keep your sister warm at night?
In “Days of Heaven,” (again) Bill (Richard Gere) leaves Chicago and gets farm work for himself, his sister Linda and his girlfriend Abby. Bill and Abby pretend as brother and sister.
So the question is are they hicks or not?
They do straddle the line. For the characters’ sake we’ll pretend that they did so because it’s better to get work under this guise. That doesn’t stop them from looking like kissing cousins in front of the farm. Of course, everyone notices, including the farmer (Sam Shepard) who eventually marries Abby.
I have always considered them as tragic figures, because OK, I have to explain this further by saying that this post exists because of a discussion I had with a friend after finally seeing the movie on the big screen. One of the things he also said was that the main characters weren’t that intelligent. The fact that not only did they get beyond Chicago city limits but that they maneuvered themselves into the farmer’s mansion disproves that. The tragic figure reading comes in when they get into something so big that they can’t get out of it, a general plot that will keep most eyes’ attention.
They’re also not that articulate, as shown in Linda’s narration, having the vernacular of Chicago streets. This is the exact opposite of “The Thin Red Line,” where guys in Southern accents have poetic narration. I never really expect intelligence from my characters, nor do I expect them to evolve. As long as the characters aren’t Coen Brothers stupid or Jimmy Stewart awkward. I’m saying that even if I like both the Coens and Stewart.
I’m comforted that they’re not really brother and sister. Bill and Abby’s relationship is also weaved into a narrative and fictional environment that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable when I’m looking at them. Thankfully.