CANNES, France--Even by the standards of 20th-century postmodernists, William Faulkner is considered a difficult, if not unfilmable, moviemaking challenge. His sentences can be fractured, his action can be interior and his points-of-view often splatter in 10 different directions.
So of course James Franco thought this was good movie material.
The prolific star turned out to the Cannes Film Festival last week to premiere his newest movie, an adaptation of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" that he wrote, directed and stars in. The film stays more or less faithful to Faulkner's narrative premise of the Bundren's family quest to bury their matriarch, while mixing in some cinematic tricks to capture Faulkner's style (e.g., split screens early in the drama). The movie, which will head to U.S. theaters in the fall, elicited respectful if not overly exuberant reviews at the festival.
In an interview at the festival, Franco said he had a longstanding love of Faulkner ever since he read "As I Lay Dying" more than a decade ago. And his experience making an inherently difficult movie about the poet Hart Crane -- "we wanted it to be obtuse because the poetry is obtuse," he said of his movie "The Broken Tower" -- showed him that even the master from Mississippi was a possibility.