With As I Lay Dying, James Franco makes the bold attempt to translate to screen a novel (by legendary American writer William Faulkner) that has long been deemed “unfilmable.” Told from the perspectives of fifteen different characters, the story follows a family’s attempt to bury their deceased matriarch, Addie Bundren, in the town of Jefferson (a fictional town in a fictional county where all of Faulkner’s stories are set, incidentally).
During that mecca, family secrets and beefs begin to reveal themselves, as the path to Jefferson proves to be more treacherous – both physically and emotionally – than anyone had initially imagined.
The trailer for this adaptation of As I Lay Dying is a curious beast, selling Faulkner’s dense and meditative novel about family bonds as a some sort of quasi-thriller road trip film. Of course, literary fans will likely recognize that most of the “action” moments in the trailer above are drawn from two main ‘pivotal’ scenes in the book, with some pretty big reveals as from the climax thrown in for good measure.
Those who have never read the book will have little context for the moments revealed in the trailer, so spoilers aren’t so much a worry; the greater question raised, is whether or not scenes of famous actors looking disheveled in hillbilly garb and spouting cryptic (but lovely) prose is enough to snag the interest of the average moviegoer.
However, with a cast that includes Franco starring as well as directing; his former flame Ahna O’Reilly (The Help) playing his onscreen sister; actors like Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down), and Jim Parrack (True Blood) flexing more dramatic muscle; as well as solid (three-name) character actors like Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) and Tim Blake Nelson (O’ Brother Where Art Thou?) holding down supporting roles, both lit fans and movie fans should feel a pique in curiosity when it come to seeing how well the cast gels and is able to carry the film. That’s not even mentioning the intrigue surrounding Franco’s debut as a director…
As I Lay Dying will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this month; a release date will likely be established soon thereafter.