As I Lay Dying is an upcoming film based on the 1930 novel by William Faulkner with the same title. This new movie is directed by Oscar-nominated James Franco who will also star in it. As I Lay Dying follows the story of the Bundren family who travels the Mississippi countryside to bring the body of their deceased mother to a nearby town of Jefferson to honor her request. The film will also chronicle the struggle of the family and how they were affected by their mother’s death in different and profound ways. As I Lay Dying stars Danny McBride, Ahna O’Reilly and Logan Marshall-Green. The film was first screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Check out an early look at As I Lay Dying below:
“As I Lay Dying by James Franco
Critics of James Franco are getting worn down, if not yet fully convinced, by his sheer energy and productivity. The actor, writer, director and artist has now come to Cannes with a bold and high-minded new project: a screen version of William Faulkner’s 1930 novel As I Lay Dying, which Franco directs from his own screenplay, and co-stars as Darl Bundren, the glowering son in a dirt-poor family in rural Mississippi. Tim Blake Nelson is the haggard, toothless father Anse, and Beth Grant plays the dying mother Addie Bundren. Jim Parrack and Logan Marshall-Green play Cash and Jewel, the other two grownup brothers; Ahna O’Reilly plays their sister Dewey and Brady Permenter is the smallest child, Vardaman. When Addie dies, the family attempts to honour her last wish for a burial in her far-off hometown of Jackson, a plan that necessitates taking the body on a long journey in a home-carpentered coffin on the back of a precarious horse-drawn cart, with the whole family glumly along for the ride. The journey is increasingly insanitary and grim, and becomes a tragic ordeal of poverty and misery.
The novel itself is famously narrated by many different characters in separate short chapters, and it is perhaps to match the spirit of these varying viewpoints that Franco presents so much of the story in split screen. Long, unhurried scenes will unfold, with mumbled, throwaway dialogue, and Franco will have two different frames, left and right: sometimes they will show two differing and significant shots, sometimes hardly more than a fractured version of the same shot. Sometimes they will be two almost exactly similar shots of the same featureless sky, with the non-matching vertical join line almost invisible.
This may look gimmicky and self-conscious, but it is consistently and seriously presented, and Franco’s As I Lay Dying is a worthwhile movie, approached in an intelligent and creative spirit. The ensemble work from the actors is generally very strong, with a star turn from Nelson as the prematurely aged patriarch, and the story is presented lucidly and confidently.
The problem, I think, comes with the way Franco directs himself in the role of Darl; his character’s motivations become slightly opaque, especially in the barn-fire scene, and the subsequent “arrest” scene in Jackson. The difficulty with that final sequence is that all that has come before does not appear to have accumulated in any climactic, tragic discharge of emotion or energy; it simply fades over the horizon. Perhaps it might have been better for him to cast a different actor in the role of Darl, and be content with direction. But with As I Lay Dying Franco can chalk up a qualified but distinct success, and another chapter in what is becoming a very notable career.”
The original article can be seen at The Guardian.
As I Lay Dying is going to be released in theaters on September 27th 2013.
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