Parents' Guide to

As I Lay Dying

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Franco's dark, strange, but appealing Faulkner adaptation.

Movie R 2013 110 minutes
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AS I LAY DYING takes more risks than most movies. It has been decades since anyone attempted to adapt a William Faulkner novel for the big screen, and certainly As I Lay Dying -- a novel with 15 different narrators -- was a difficult choice for actor/writer/director and all-around Renaissance man James Franco. Perhaps the easiest thing would have been to make one of those glossy, reverent, literary movies that never sprang to life. What Franco came up with instead is messy, bizarre, muted, and confusing, but it's also heartfelt and personal.

Franco is not precious about the period details. The costumes look like actual clothing, and the sets feel like real, lived-in places. The Mississippi accents are thick and unruly; it's very difficult to understand much of what Tim Blake Nelson -- who mumbles through a mouthful of rotten teeth -- says. Indeed, it's difficult to tune into any individual character, but the overall mood and the sense of family connection are quite strong.

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