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The latest from actor-turned-filmmaker James Franco is adapted from characteristically tough and violent Cormac McCarthy novel that draws the director’s ambitions into disturbing terrain as it explores the rituals and desperation of the Southern US’s rural poor.
The remarkably prolific James Franco's
recent projects have addressed, in various
forms, the idea of the American outsider.
From the street hustlers in his My Own
Private River installation, through the
fetishists of his experimental film Interior
Leather Bar to performative seances of
unsung heroes and heroines with visual
artist Laurel Nakadate, his artistic practice
seeks to archive marginal cultural figures,
rich threads in a national fabric so often
aggressively reduced to its "winners."
Child of God, adapted from a characteristically
tough and violent Cormac McCarthy
novel, extends Franco's ambitions into
considerably more dangerous and disturbing
terrain. The film is a dark mirror to his
recent adaptation of William Faulkner's As
I Lay Dying, both exploring the rituals and
desperation of the Southern rural poor.
Lester Ballard (Scott Haze, spitting and
scratching at himself) is an abandoned
soul, unable to fit into the established social
order. As he increasingly withdraws into his
own mind, he turns to violence and, ultimately,
necrophilic relationships, looking
for solace in a world that continually rejects
him. The town sheriff (indelibly portrayed
by Jim Parrack), both sympathetic to and
fearful of the man, slowly closes the net
around him — but a mob of townfolk have
ideas of their own. Here the frame of the
film turns, exposing a society where politesse
is only a fingernail scratch away from
pure hate and greed.
Franco (also at the Festival in Palo Alto)
hits an impressive new stride as a filmmaker
with Child of God. He lays bare his
characters against a beautifully textured
palette of grey and beige, proposing unusual
camera angles to destabilize our expectations.
And as the film reaches its surprising
climax, he undertakes several experiments
with lighting that result in some of the most
striking images in cinema this year.
- James Franco
- James Franco was born in California.
His numerous acting credits include
the features Spider Man (02); City
by the Sea (02); Pineapple Express
(08); Milk (08) and Howl (10), as
well as 127 Hours (10), and Spring
Breakers (12), which both played at
The Festival. His directing credits
include the short films The Feast of
Stephen (09) and Dream (12), and the
features As I Lay Dying (13) and Child
of God (13).