A moment that stays with me in Terrence Malick’s Badlands occurs near the end of Kit and Holly’s flight from authorities through South Dakota up into the US-Canada border. There is a lull both in their pursuit and in their relationship, which so far has been one of passive submission by Holly to Kit’s cold-blooded murder spree.
Holly has concluded that she is done with Kit, for their destination in the far north, even if arrived at, would be fruitless. He knows seemingly nothing except to charm and kill. Her future thus vouchsafed by refusal of him, she tells Kit this on their night drive (or so she tells us, in her narration) and he responds as the audience has been primed to expect him to respond: with almost nonchalant indifference. His protests, in another man’s voice, might be strained by discordant rage; another man’s eyes might gleam with thoughts of loss. His, however, betray no such passions. He catalogs his prospects, but Holly isn’t really listening (although a part of her is). Kit’s acknowledgment of her inattention is blithe. […]