By: Nevra Azerkan
Rating: [The Breakdown]
I read As I Lay Dying, the iconic novel by William Faulkner, years ago and never thought I would see it adapted for the screen. It isn’t exactly the easiest storyline to portray on film which is why it has never been attempted before, but if anyone could do it I knew James Franco could. He not only stars in the movie, but he wrote the screenplay and also directed it. He’s kind of talented like that.
The story is a 1930s classic that revolves around the death of Addie Bundren and the journey her family takes to honor her last wish which was to be buried in Jefferson, a nearby town. The tricky part of the storyline is that it features 15 different narrators—yeah, FIFTEEN, each one of them telling their perspective of what was happening along the way.
Franco kept the storyline true to the book, at least from what I could remember about it. I didn’t notice any significant changes. If anything, he brought the story to life in a way you wouldn’t think would be possible with all of its complexities. The best part of how he accomplished this was by using a split screen to show multiple things happenings and to distinguish the narrators. Since most films don’t usually incorporate this technique (and less so for the majority of the film), it was something fresh that captivated your attention throughout the film.
The actors were fantastic fulfilling each role, especially Tim Blake Nelson, who took on a very difficult character. This is also a nod to the director. The camera seemed to be hand-held for the most part giving it that rugged feel and almost making you feel like you are there with this family and enduring their struggles with them. Everything about this film screams artistic masterpiece. Coming from James Franco, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
I left the theater in great thought because everything you see in this movie is so gritty and raw that you can’t help but place yourself in that situation and wonder how it would have been like for you. However, you wouldn’t be leaving with those thoughts had this film not felt so real. Franco not only accomplished portraying As I Lay Dying effectively on screen, but he brought it to life in a way that will enable anyone who watches it to truly experience this grand story.