Title – Child of God (2013)
Director – James Franco (As I Lay Dying)
Cast – Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, James Franco
Plot – Wild mountain man Lester Ballard (Haze) slowly becomes a more violent and depraved human when his home is taken from him and a chance encounter with a crime scene turns his world onto a path that inhabits the deepest and darkest of the human condition.
“They came like a caravan or carnival folk up through the swales of broomstraw and across the hill in the morning sun”
Review by Eddie on 20/08/2014
For those who’ve not yet partaken in the depraved and deranged dealings of Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 book Child of God you are in for one almighty shock if you by chance stumble upon this new James Franco directed effort, a tale that is utterly original in all its triumphs and shortcomings and a tale that deals with some seriously tricky business that on page seemed almost too much to ever commit to screen but thanks to an obvious commitment to the text by Franco the film works to a level that marks the event as an oddity not unworthy of seeking out.
Franco who has long held affiliation with a desire to transform McCarthy’s more insane and often controversial works to screen here goes for much of the same aesthetic he created in his last directional outing As I Lay Dying, a low budget yet gritty feel that uses it’s natural surrounds to good effect and gives off the illusion of a bigger project. Franco harbors a good feel for not only Lester Ballard the creation but also his world, the feel of the lonely mountains and the people that inhabit them is captured to great effect and visions so vividly written in the book are bought to life here in many respects. With the world captured so foreign too many of us, Franco in the form of actor Scott Haze has found someone that against all odds is Lester Ballard and leads the story of insanity forward.
Without spoiling the character for those uninitiated, Lester Ballard is a thoroughly despicable and complex creation, a man who despite clearly not being of sane mind is also a man who knows better than the acts he commits. Haze owns this “child of god” from small mannerisms through to out and out rage, from random lonely road discoveries to questionable hair and makeup, Haze gets Lester right. Haze is the focus point of the picture with only small appearances by Tim Blake Nelson and Franco himself it’s clear that this film is built by Haze but there is only so far his performance can carry a picture that in the end is dealing with material mighty hard to not only relate to but to tolerate and it’s a commendable feat to the filmmakers that you won’t be reaching for the off switch a mere 30 minutes in for make no doubt about it there are mightily tough and mature themes the film deals with.
Child of God is a film you feel will slowly be discovered by an unknowing audience who will react strongly either way in favour or hatred to a tale that provides no reason for things being the way they are. For those who are familiar with the text this is a very strong attempt at turning an almost un-filmable book into a quality film and as it stands is another fine turn by Franco as a director in what is shaping up to be an interesting career behind the camera.
3 conniving stuffed toys out of 5