The Trailer for James Franco’s ‘The Sound and the Fury’ Is, Uh, Really Something
James Franco is a man of letters, a learned scholar whose high-literary ambitions transcend the fussy corporate machinery of what Orson Welles once called “the biggest electric train set a boy ever had,” Hollywood. James Franco is not here for your popcorn pabulum, he is a Serious Man that intends on directing Serious Movies about Great Literature. James Franco’s prevailing need to remind the American public that he loves books has led him to direct adaptations of Cormac McCarthy’s novel Child of God, which went poorly, and William Faulkner’s classic As I Lay Dying, which went worse. Most filmmakers would recognize the pattern and pursue another genre of filmmaking, but not James Franco. James Franco went to Harvard, maybe you’ve heard of it. He’s smart enough to know the only problem was that the literary masterpieces he was bringing to the screen weren’t oblique enough! If only he could find a sufficiently impregnable entry in the canon of great American literature, all of his faults as a director would fall away.
Which brings us to the first trailer for the James Franco-starring, James Franco-directed adaptation of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, a stream-of-consciousness Southern doorstopper chronicling the calamitous life of the Compson family. At the risk of editorializing, it does not look good. The prospect of Franco staging an adaptation of one of American literature’s densest masterworks with his stoner buddies Danny McBride and Seth Rogen might sound fun, but the two aforementioned actors only contribute cameos, and that leaves a whole lot of movie.
Tim Blake Nelson leads the cast as patriarch Jason Compson III, and Franco devours the screen as the mentally disabled son Benjy. I do not believe it to be coincidental that the trailer features no soundbites from Franco’s rendition of Benjy. Perhaps the editors responsible are trying to keep something from us. But even so, there’s no getting around the overall look of Franco as Benjy, which can only be described as Simple Jack-esque. We’ve embedded the trailer above, so you can judge for yourself, but, um, yeesh.