Thursday, June 26, 2014

As I Lay Dying [USA, 2013]

Nine Things about the Movie As I Lay Dying
1. I was in college the first time I read Faulkner’s mysterious, profound, stream-of-consciousness novel “As I Lay Dying”. It blew my mind. I didn’t know people could write like that. I also agreed with the general consensus that it was one of those books that could never be made into a movie.

2. James Franco took on the challenge to make it into a movie. So with a fellow student, Matt Rager, he turned the book into a script. Then he directed it and starred in it, as well.

3. It’s about a Mississippi family in 1930 that is nearly destroyed - mentally, physically, and emotionally - while on a trek to bury their dead mother.

4. In order to capture the unique and difficult style of the book, the film often breaks up into a split-screen form, with the same scene playing from different angles or different times. Sometimes there are two separate scenes playing simultaneously. There are a lot of voiceovers. It uses a lot of Faulkner’s actual writing.

5. Yes, the coffin is built on a bevel. Vardaman's mother is a fish.

6. While Franco is technically the star, and plays Darl (probably the biggest character in the book), this is truly an ensemble cast. The most memorable performance is from Tim Blake Nelson, who plays Anse, the hopeless, luckless, toothless father. His performance is mesmerising.

7. Even though the movie is American, you will probably need to turn the subtitles on, since the dialogue is spoken in an uneducated Southern drawl.

8. The studio that made the movie decided not to release it in theaters.

9. I don’t use the word “masterpiece” very often, but this is one. In it’s own way, it is as mysterious and profound as the novel itself, while also making it (slightly) more accessible.

And you can say what you want about James Franco, but he continues to be one of the only true artists around that can bring unique visions to cinematic reality.