It distracts as often as it enlightens, and Franco himself seems to have tired of the tactic. Donate to support new essays, interviews, reviews, literary curation, our groundbreaking publishing workshop, free events series, newly anointed publishing wing, and the dedicated team that makes it possible. The Los Angeles Review of Books is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For better or worse — mostly worse — the characters struggle mightily to give their mother (Beth Grant) the burial she requests. I saw the movie twice before reading the book. A 1939 cover story on William Faulkner by subscribing to TIME, Faulkner in the all-TIME Top 100 English-Language Novels list, Richard Corliss’s take on James Franco and Danny McBride in, Fashion Highlights from the Cannes Film Festival. Some viewers may be frustrated by the slow pacing, the experimental techniques, or the absence of definitive answers about the characters’ internal motives. Cuomo, grinning, says boyfriend he claimed to ‘like’ is ‘no longer with us’, Ivanka, Jared: Don’t blame us on Times Square billboards for Trump administration COVID-19 death toll — we’ll sue, Woman found dead in Queens was possibly strangled; cops searching for suspect on video dumping body, 'It doesn’t matter if I had to sit out here all day’: Early voters in NYC come out in force, motivated to make a change in leadership, Teen arrested after teacher sees him having oral sex with 7-year-old girl during break in online class, Trump struggles to lift glass of water during ‘60 Minutes’ interview, Ten people shot, one killed as bullets fly across New York City overnight, Two bystanders wounded after Long Island man opens fire outside bar, Questions swirl about Sen. McConnell’s health after he’s seen with badly bruised hands, lip, President casts ballot in person for 'a guy named Trump’ in Florida, takes pot shot at mail-in voting, Man chomps off rival’s ear in fight against Bronx family of three, Forget Adam Gase and Joe Douglas, it’s too bad that Jets owner Woody Johnson can’t be fired, Unarmed Black man Jonathan Price offered handshake, asked if officer was ‘doing good’ before cop shot him: affidavit, Indiana man gunned down on Brooklyn street, What the (Joe) Buck? “Now I can get them teeth.”, (READ: A 1939 cover story on William Faulkner by subscribing to TIME). Donate $250 to support the print edition of our Quarterly Journal, and you’ll receive an annual subscription to the journal, along with all of the perks listed above, plus a limited edition tote. Translating such a polyglossic text to the screen poses some daunting challenges, which may explain why Franco is the first director to make the attempt. They become, as Darl notes in one of his monologues in the novel, “figures in a Greek frieze, isolated out of all reality.” Even more than the novel, the film stresses the mythic potential of the trip, using slow-motion camera work and swelling, discordant string music to underscore the symbolic valence, for instance, of the scene when the coffin spills into the rushing river as the brothers try to ford a river where the bridge has been washed out. Gov. An "unfilmable" novel becomes an art movie of modest accomplishments and frustrations. The unconventional filmic techniques may rankle some viewers, but set against the provocative and perplexing nature of Faulkner’s prose, they arguably don’t go far enough. But in many respects this is a faithful and intelligent synopsis of the book. (Timothy O’Keefe’s music, which takes some of its cues from Bernard Herrmann’s scores, nicely increases the tension here, as it does throughout the movie.) But that’s just one opinion of the film. More significant, the film does not (and perhaps cannot) fully render the wondrously expansive poetic and philosophical complexity of Faulkner’s novel. For every role in a movie … Addie Bundren, the wife of Anse Bundren and the matriarch of a poor southern family, is very ill, and is expected to die soon. Jewel tames a beloved horse, Darl goes into town on a fool’s errand and Vardaman returns home with a fish about as big as he is. Joseph Entin is the author of Sensational Modernism: Experimental Fiction and Photography in Thirties America (2007). MLB continues to roll over for Fox and NFL gets the last laugh, Infection rate falls in NYC coronavirus ‘micro-clusters’ as state suspends 21 more liquor licenses, Texas man kills wife, posts YouTube video, gets shot by cops, authorities say, Comedian Maria DeCotis tells the Daily News how she turns Gov. Donate $5000 to help LARB continue to push literary boundaries and, along with all the perks listed above, we’ll credit you as a donor on our website and in our Quarterly Journal. As I Lay Dying does not tell an objective tale, but is a series of subjective experiences, showing in the very way the novel is told that there is an inherent disconnect between language, how it can tell a story, and action, the story itself. Donate $1000 to help foster our ongoing commitment to visual art, and you’ll receive, along with all of the perks listed above, credit for supporting LARB’s relationship with the visual arts. The film is ideally suited to viewers who have not only read the original text, but are also familiar enough with it to appreciate the challenge of transposing the text’s modernist forms into filmic ones. To locate an equivalent for the novel’s polyphonal scheme, Franco often employs split screens. Subscribe to our annual digital level for $100 and help us keep our eclectic array of online pieces free to the public. A Beatnik Animal House: John Krokidas’s “Kill Your Darlings”, Feeling Blue: On Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color”, Umbilical Cords: Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity”, Pacific Rim: Guillermo del Toro’s Fractal Shoes, When Love Doesn’t Last: Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight”, In a Lonely Place: On “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” and “Love, Guaranteed”, An Enduring Relationship with Forms: A Conversation with Nancy Naomi Carlson, Dishing: On John Birdsall’s “The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard”, Filming Faulkner’s Modernism: James Franco’s “As I Lay Dying”. That graduate student, James Franco, has also been a film actor of some note. Franco sometimes wanders from his naturalistic style into a mixture of dream and nightmare, as when Dewey Dell takes a kitchen knife used to cut fish, walks over to Darl and guts him. John Steinbeck’s Joads are Rockefellers compared to the Bundrens, who on their Cavalry road to Jefferson endure more plagues than Job, with fire and flood among them. As Addie lays dying, Cash saws away outside in the rain fashioning her coffin. The Bundrens lack electricity, a car or any form of refrigeration — which would come in handy, considering that Addie’s remains are quickly decaying. “My father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.” The speaker is Addie Bundren (Beth Grant), matriarch of a clan of Mississippi misfortunates that comprises her husband Anse (Tim Blake Nelson), her four sons Cash (Jim Parrack), Jewel (Logan Marshall-Green), Darl (Franco) and Vardaman (Brady Permenter), the youngest, and her teenage daughter Dewey Dell (Ahna Reilly). (The novel’s shortest and perhaps most well-known chapter is a single, imagistic sentence from Vardaman: “My mother is a fish.”). Like many modernist narratives, this is a story of disintegration and decay — a tale of a family’s, and an historic era’s, collapse. While there’s no indication that Franco intended the film to be a political work of art, it comes five years into the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. “God’s will be done,” he pronounces at the memorial service held in their rude home. In 2010, Franco, who is not only an actor and filmmaker, but also the author of a collection of short stories and a PhD student in English, starred in Howl, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, a film that includes a complete reading of Allen Ginsberg’s sprawling mid-century poem. The effort is honorable, a mixture of mannerism and earned emotion. This is a limited audience, of course, and one that, ironically, will understand what gets lost in the process of translation from book to screen. The device imposes a strange rhythm on the images. Digital Quarterly Journal + archive + member card for participating bookstores + our weekly newsletter and events invitations. In the weeds: James Franco bites off a lot in trying to bring William Faulkner's modernist 1930 novel "As I Lay Dying" to the screen. Donate $500 to help us pay writers, ensuring that LARB continues to publish brave new voices, and you’ll receive, along with all of the perks listed above, four titles from our publishing wing, LARB Books. At times, these devices work effectively, such as when the Bundrens’ wagon and the coffin splash into the river on the first day of their journey. In particular, the deteriorating condition of Cash’s broken, bleeding leg, which doesn’t receive medical attention until the only remedy is a gruesomely-rendered amputation, is excruciating to watch, and gives physical form to the layers of psychic pain suffered by the Bundren clan as a whole. Logan Marshall-Green (l.) and James Franco in "As I Lay Dying," about a poor Mississippi family trying to grant their mother's final request. Alas, the split-screen compositions, slow-motion effects, pensive closeups and prosthetic teeth can't distract from what's missing: Faulkner's pointed but deeply buried observations of the human condition. The odyssey the Bundrens take after her death could be another fool’s errand: transporting her body on a wagon for burial in the town of Jefferson, not far away. He is stronger directing his fellow actors, achieving poignancy in small moments, such as young Vardaman asking of his dead mother, “Where’d she go? (SEE: Faulkner in the all-TIME Top 100 English-Language Novels list). Save $10 when you subscribe for a whole year! Through it all, the youngest Bundren sibling (Brady Permenter), grapples with the meaning of his mother’s death through the symbolic significance of a large fish he catches and cleans. Modernism has been described as the advent of “grim reading,” and Franco’s film doesn’t shy away from the bleak nature of Faulkner’s tale. The notion that no one could make an As I Lay Dying film relies on assumed slavery to the novel's form (each chapter is a kind of stream of consciousness monologue by a different character). They may give views of two characters, as when Ma is inside the shack beckoning to Cash outside; or additional perspectives of a single calamity, such as when Addie’s coffin is lost in a river. (READ: Richard Corliss’s take on James Franco and Danny McBride in Pineapple Express). He mostly dispenses with it halfway through the film. On the first day, the wagon spills into a flooded river and the coffin slips down stream; Cash (Jim Parrack), the eldest Bundren sibling, breaks his leg and to stabilize it, his brother Darl (Franco) encases it in cement, which leads to gangrene.

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