As I Lay Dying

"Good"

As I Lay Dying Review


James Franco makes his directing debut with this ambitious adaptation of William Faulkner's notoriously downbeat novel. No surprise: it's extremely grim! It's also a bit too cleverly shot and edited to tell the tale from each character's perspective, which means there's no central point to draw us in emotionally.

The story takes place in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century, where the Bundren family have surrounded Addie (Grant) on her deathbed. Her children are all nearby: daughter Dewey Dell (O'Reilly) stays by her side, Cash (Parrack) saws timber for her coffin, Jewel (Marshall-Green) rides his precious horse to clear his mind, and Darl (Franco) tries to keep everyone happy, including youngest brother Vard (Permenter). But their dad Anse (Nelson) has promised to bury Addie in Jefferson, a three-day journey away. And as they painstakingly make their way across the countryside, each of them has a personal issue to deal with along the way.

All of the characters get a chance to narrate part of the film, which lets us see their inner thoughts and dreams and understand the secrets they are hiding from each other. Along with Franco's use of split screens to show scenes from multiple angles, this essentially makes us all-seeing witnesses to the story, unable to dive in and engage with the raw emotions that are churning around everyone. The film is beautifully shot and acted with real soulfulness, but it also feels eerily dispassionate about these fragile people.

But then Franco never does something the easy way. He constantly stretches himself as an actor, writer and director, and his performance here is tender and layered too. Marshall-Green and Parrack have a yearning charm that catches our sympathy. By contrast Nelson seems almost cartoonish, comically chewing the scenery even without any teeth. In the end, the film is a thoughtful exploration of the blurry line between life and death, and how what we do both draws people to us and pushes them away. It's clever and often quite scary, but we never feel the badly needed emotional kick.



As I Lay Dying

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 9th October 2013

Box Office USA: $15.0k

Distributed by: Millennium Entertainment

Production compaines: Lee Caplin / Picture Entertainment, RabbitBandini Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Caroline Aragon, Lee Caplin, , Miles Levy, Vince Jolivette, Matthew O'Toole, Robert Van Norden

Starring: as Darl Bundren, as Vernon Tull, as Jewel, as Dewey Dell, as Cash, as Anse, as Addie Bundren, Brian Lally as Dr. Peabody, Jennifer Kristen Howell as Cora Tull, Brady Permenter as Vardaman Bundren, Natalie Minton as Kate Tull

Also starring: ,

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