Child of God
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Child of God is an adaptation of a 1973 Cormac McCarthy novel, directed by James Franco. It deals with some very disturbing themes and topics in a no-frills way. The main one is necrophilia; in more than one scene, the main character has sex with a dead woman, and he eventually begins killing more women for this purpose. There's also lots of shooting, killing, blood, fighting, and general rage and anger. Language is strong and frequent, with many uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," and other words. There's some sexual and non-sexual nudity: The character fondles a dead woman's breast, and his bottom is seen during the act of necrophilia. He's also shown defecating in the woods on camera, and he masturbates off camera. Characters are briefly seen smoking cigarettes and drinking whisky. The movie is hard to recommend, but also hard to dismiss.
What's the story?
Based on a 1973 novel by Cormac McCarthy, CHILD OF GOD concerns Lester Ballard (Scott Haze), an unhinged, unstable young man -- a "child of God much like yourself perhaps" -- who's thrown out of his childhood home and takes to living in the woods. Armed with his rifle, for which he saved up and bought as a child, he hunts and steals to survive. Soon he desires companionship. He wins some giant stuffed animals at a carnival, but he craves a human touch. He comes across a dead man and woman in a car and decides to have sex with the woman's body. He keeps her in his shack, but when the shack burns and he loses her, he must start killing young lovers to keep up his new hobby.
Is it any good?
This is one of those cases in which "good" doesn't really apply. Director James Franco has by all accounts presented a faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, and its powerful themes come through clearly. Namely: It's possible to stray a long way into isolation, depravation, and outright evil, but we're all "children of God." On top of that, Haze has given a journeyman's performance in the lead role, howling and raging, and seemingly enduring superhuman loads of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish.
Yet the physical experience of watching this no-frills movie is difficult, dealing as it does with necrophilia on top of images of human filth, cold-blooded murder, and unbridled hatred and cruelty. To pan the movie based on discomfort would be wrong, but to recommend it to casual viewers, especially those who like other McCarthy adaptations (No Country for Old Men, The Road, etc.) would also be wrong. It's here if you're ready for it.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Child of God's overall violence. Does it feel more intense than in other movies? How did the filmmakers accomplish this feeling?
What part of the film was the most disturbing to you? Do you think that was intentional? Who do you think this movie is intended to appeal to?
What do you think of the movie's theme, that the main character is a "child of God much like yourself perhaps." How are we like the main character? How could this character's fate have been changed?
|Theatrical release date:||August 1, 2014|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||October 28, 2014|
|Cast:||Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Jim Parrack|
|Studio:||Well Go USA|
|Run time:||104 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||disturbing aberrant sexual content, nudity, language and some violence|