When James Franco announced that he wanted to write and direct an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” most of us scoffed at the idea and said that it was a story that would never make for a good movie. Franco being Franco, he went ahead and did the job anyway, and now he’s got a completed As I Lay Dying film that debuted at Cannes and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release in the US at the end of September. Point for James Franco.
Never one to take a break from giving himself challenges, Franco then moved on to adapting another challenging work from another titan of the literary game, Cormac McCarthy’s “Child of God.” If you’re familiar with The Road, which John Hillcoat adapted from another McCarthy work, or even No Country For Old Men, which was the Coen brothers’ take on one of his stories, then you know McCarthy is an author who can go pretty dark and get pretty bleak with his material.
Well, if you want to understand the challenge that Franco undertook by making Child of God, take all that darkness and bleakness in things like The Road and No Country, and then multiply it by about a hundred, because this is probably the most disturbing story featuring the most difficult to relate to character McCarthy has ever written. It’s hard to imagine anyone being able to make this one into a movie anyone would want to watch, but now Deadline has brought us a teaser trailer for what Franco was able to do with the material, so settle in and get your first taste of the weirdness he has in store for us.
Is that exciting or what? Okay, so the trailer is mostly just Scott Haze looking crazy as the main character, Lester Ballard, and it doesn’t give us much of an idea of what the film is going to be about, but he sure does a great job of looking crazy. And just look at these descriptions from Amazon talking about the original McCarthy book. Not only is it described as being a “taut, chilling novel” where, “Lester Ballard—a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape—haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail,” but it’s also said that, “‘Child of God’ must be the most sympathetic portrayal of necrophilia in all of literature. The hero, Lester Ballard, is expelled from his human family and ends up living in underground caves, which he peoples with his trophies: giant stuffed animals won in carnival shooting galleries and the decomposing corpses of his victims.” Necrophilia!
Child of God doesn’t exactly sound like a pleasant evening out at the moving pictures, but regardless it’s all set to debut at Venice and then play TIFF, so if people aren’t too disgusted by what they see there, then perhaps a deal will get put in place to bring it to theaters or VOD services sometime after. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. This one also has Tim Blake Nelson in it, after all. Tim Blake Nelson and necrophilia.