The Color of Time

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Color of Time Movie Poster Image
Visually appealing but pretentious film tries too hard.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 72 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The main character's varied experiences growing up help shape him into a poet.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character learns to appreciate women and friends as he matures, and the depth of his feelings becomes part of the worldview that colors his poetry.

Violence
Sex

One vignette centers around a vaguely seen sexual encounter. Partial nudity. Couples embrace and sometimes kiss.

Language

Occasional profanity, including "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes feature people smoking cigarettes or drinking at parties. One sequence centers on a character who appears to be taking LSD.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Color of Time is a dreamy, moody, non-linear, cinematic adaptation of the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C.K. Williams. The film was written and directed by a dozen New York University students, who cast their instructor -- actor James Franco -- as the poet-narrator. There's some drinking, smoking, and drug use (LSD), as well as a sex scene that leaves most of the encounter off screen (though there's some partial nudity) and brief swearing (including "f--k").

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What's the story?

In a series of vignettes directed by his New York University students, actor James Franco brings to life the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C.K. Williams in THE COLOR OF TIME. The audience sees Williams as a boy, a teen, and finally an adult. Poetic narration attempts to show how Williams' varied experiences shaped his views on life -- and how that works into his art.

Is it any good?

Points to The Color of Time's directors for looking to Williams' poetry as source material; but although the film is a gorgeous visual buffet, there's not much there there. The non-sequential vignettes jump back and forth through different periods of the poet's life and are filled with images that seem significant (or try to be) -- a young boy and girl holding hands, a white horse, a meaningful look from an attractive stranger at a party -- and are wrapped in narration that sounds important but doesn't leave the audience with much to like, or love. Bottom line? The film tries too hard, and in the end, it's a pretentious exercise.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Color of Time's relationship to poetry. Does the movie seem like a visual attempt at poetry? How so? How does this approach differ from more conventional, narrative films?

  • Do you think this movie would have gotten made/distributed if Franco hadn't been involved? Does his participation impact how you perceive the film -- or your expectations for it?

  • What did you learn about poet C.K. Williams from the film? 

Movie details

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