(out of 5)
James Franco continues his career as film director with this laborious adaptation of the novel by William Faulkner. Beth Grant passes away and leaves behind her sons, whom she has instructed to make her coffin with their own hands and take her after her death to be buried in a nearby town. The men prepare for the journey in their miserably rainy backwater village, complete with ramshackle home and general unkemptness, before taking to the road. The experimental gimmick is a perpetual split-screen presentation that I am assuming seeks to recreate the internal nature of Faulkner’s prose but is actually just aggravating. Franco has assembled a terrific cast of actors and allowed them to be as self-indulgent as they please: Tim Blake Nelson‘s toothless, slackjaw delivery is perfection in accuracy to the time and character but so incomprehensible as to be enraging. The overall effect is about as electrifying as the muddy roads these men walk on, with details etched out lovingly everywhere except within the human depths of its characters.
Directed by James Franco
Cinematography by Christina Voros
Music by Tim O’Keefe
Production Design by Kristen Adams
Costume Design by Caroline Eselin
Film Editing by Ian Olds