|James Franco delivers the "full retard" and Scott Haze is sheer, utter evil incarnate. Just another day o' good old finger lickin' yummy Southern Gothic 4 U 2 enjoy!|
The Sound and the Fury (2014)
Dir. James Franco
Scr. Matt Rager
Starring: James Franco, Scott Haze, Jacob Loeb, Tim Blake Nelson, Joey King, Ahna O’Reilly, Loretta Devine, Janet Gretzky
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Last year, James Franco plunged his lead actor Scott Haze into the unenviable position of having to go ‘full retard’ as a psychotic half-wit in Child of God, the genuinely great film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s shocking potboiler. The real impediment to Oscar glory here was not just going ‘full retard’, but the fact that Haze took a crap on screen, wiped his poopy-butt with a stick, spied on young lovers boinking whilst jerking off, slaughtering a host of honey-pies, having sex with their corpses and then donning their finery before launching into a killing rampage in drag as he goes head-to-head against a whole passel of lawmen.
Here we are, one year later, and Franco hands the brilliant Haze the role of Jason Compson, easily one of the most reprehensible figures in American literature. Haze is probably thanking Franco for this one, though, since Franco reserves the ‘full retard’ challenge all to his lonesome. Playing Jason’s tetched in the head little brother Benjy, Franco sports enormous buck-toothed prosthetics, plenty of eyeball rolling, grunting and drooling. Franco goes further on the ‘full retard’ front than any actor in film history.
This is Franco’s second stab at William Faulkner in so many years, and it mucho-outdoes his shot at As I Lay Dying. Faulkner – to my mind – is a thoroughly unsuitable literary source for film adaptation. God knows many have tried and failed miserably, but Franco just keeps on giving the gift that keeps on giving. He plucks what he loves about the book and splatters it Jackson Pollock-like on the screen. This is probably the best thing to do cinematically with Faulkner's rich, stream-of-consciousness prose. Screenwriter Matt Rager delivers a grotesque blueprint that plunges Faulkner into the same lollapalooza inbred territory as Anthony Mann's overlooked masterpiece of Erskine Caldwell's God's Little Acre and Elia Kazan's madcap Baby Doll.
And good goddamn, I accept this with open arms.
Here’s my bias. I love James Franco as a director. He spits in the face of everything and everybody, does what he damn well pleases and makes movies like nobody else in contemporary America. He celebrates what he's into and does it in such a go-for-broke manner, that it's hard not to respect the finished product.
Here he tackles the meandering tale of the once-rich-and-powerful Compson family dynasty of the Deep South and infuses it with the most delectably over-the-top melodrama imaginable. He divides his film into three chapters, primarily focusing upon the Compson brothers: simpleton Benjy, scumbag Jason and the doomed Quentin (Jacob Leob). In the mix we’ve got ‘fallen’ sister Caddy (Ahna O’Reilly), her ‘bastard’ child Miss Quentin (Joey King), loyal housekeeper Dilsey (Loretta Divine) and even hockey star Wayne Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones, as the deluded Compson matriarch.
It's the family that snipes at each other, loses most of their legacy together and pretty much helplessly rue the day foul Jason took the patriarchal role. For his part, he steals, lies, vents, abuses and bullies his way through his pathetic, dwindling life.
And what of Benjy, our ‘full retard’? Well shucks, he’s a mite jealous when his beloved sister starts a-rollin’ in the hay with eager male suitors, so he begins a-stalkin’ some local gals and does somethin’ he shouldn’t ougtha be doin’.
This is pure, delicious Southern Gothic at its most insane. It even indulges in some delightful Terence Malick Tree of Life shenanigans, which play like parody of the highest order. Some might believe Faulkner would be spinning in his grave over this one, but I doubt it. I think even he might have had himself as rip-roaring a good time as I did.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars
The Sound and the Fury is a Special Presentation at TIFF 2014.
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