As I Lay Dying: Movie Review

There's probably a reason why William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" has never been adapted to the big screen before and the result of James Franco's extremely ambitious directorial debut is one good reason why. The film is dead on arrival.

Addie Bundren (Beth Grant) has just died and her family is adamant on fulfilling her wishes to be buried in the town of Jefferson. The family composed of her husband Anse (Tim Blake Nelson), eldest son Cash (Jim Parrack), second son Darl(James Franco), an illegitimate son Jewel (Logan Marshall-Green), daughter Dewey Dell (Ahna O'Reilly) and youngest son Vardaman. The simple journey turns out to be a test of wits as nature and each characters' own personal problems push back the family into harder and harder trials and travails.

The beautiful scenes and the potent acting found in "As I Lay Dying" crumbles because the material itself is on floating status. It doesn't help that the film is very hard to decode and it needs your utmost and complete attention. But that job is easy to say and extremely hard to do when what you get is nothing in return. The deep and mysterious messages frustrate as you try to grapple and understand what characters are trying to say (the heavy accent making things even harder to comprehend). And even the split screen method that James Franco employs makes you want to pull your hair out as it confuses you more. The film wants to send a message but this message is deeply embedded in dialogue and unique cinematography. Additionally, what frustrated us most though is that the movie makes you feel that nothing is happening. Characters do develop and reveal their problems but never did we get into those characters, never did we feel their pain and suffering. Yes this might be a accurate and faithful adaptation of William Faulkner's novel (one can easily deduce that) but there are reasons why big screen adaptations are tweaked. "As I Lay Dying" is one good reason why films shouldn't be adapted straight from a book's pages.

Rating: 1 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- the acting was potent but wasted

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- hard to decode and understand, its mysterious nature amplifies your frustration

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