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As I Lay Dying (2013)

tomatometer

56

Average Rating: 4.8/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

40

liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 2,921

My Rating

Movie Info

Directed by Oscar-nominated James Franco from a screenplay by James Franco and Matt Rager, As I Lay Dying is adapted from the 1930 classic American novel by William Faulkner. The story chronicles the Bundren family as they traverse the Mississippi countryside to bring the body of their deceased mother Addie to her hometown for burial. Addie's husband Anse and their children, Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell, and the youngest one Vardaman, leave the farm on a carriage with her coffin - each affected

R,

Drama

James Franco, William Faulkner

Nov 5, 2013

$15.0k

Millennium Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (17)

I don't pretend to have a clue how to adapt William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" for the screen, but unlike James Franco, I, at least, didn't try.

October 11, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As a whole ... "As I Lay Dying" conveys some of Faulkner's themes, and the details of the Bundren family story, with clarity and concision.

October 10, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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It remains to be seen whether James Franco can live up to his outsized ambitions.

October 10, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Faulkner fans... need not be up in arms about this version of his Nobel Prize winner.

October 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The past may never be done with us, but Lord, do we wish Franco was done with our literary heritage.

October 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Franco adapted a book that often reads like joyless homework into a film that feels the same way.

October 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As I Lay Dying tries to adapt the impossible, but unfortunately it is bested by Faulkner's weighty source material.

November 10, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Some of the filming techniques are overused and the monologues are a bit too circuitous, but As I Lay Dying has the ability to be quite striking at times and its impulsive structure can be viewed as both an asset and a defect.

November 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

A qualified, perfectly respectable success

November 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Both brilliant and maddening

October 30, 2013 Full Review Source: CraveOnline
CraveOnline

What Franco came up with... is messy, bizarre, muted, and confusing, but it's also heartfelt and personal. It takes more risks than most movies.

October 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Franco may prove that he has a fresh visual eye, but the highly emotive story is oddly uninvolving.

October 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

Comes across - whether it's Franco's intention or not - as a grossly self-indulgent project that will alienate some of his fan base.

October 17, 2013 Full Review Source: HeyUGuys

Franco doesn't answer the elemental question posed by any literary adaptation: Why does this movie exist?

October 10, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

James Franco makes his directing debut with this ambitious adaptation of William Faulkner's notoriously downbeat novel. No surprise: it's extremely grim!

October 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Contactmusic.com
Contactmusic.com

Like Franco's other directorial efforts, it ends up coming across as an academic art object, somewhere halfway between a graduate thesis and a video installation-interesting, but only in context.

October 10, 2013 Full Review Source: AV Club

James Franco's readiness in approaching famously abstract source material certainly doesn't translate well into his directorial formalism, or, more appropriately, lack of formalism.

October 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Whilst undeniably pretty, As I Lay Dying never amounts to the kind of significance its source material, cast and portentous stylings would imply.

September 25, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

an extraordinarily well made film that, in keeping us at a distance and failing to engage our sympathies or antipathies for its characters, remains more toothless in the end even than old Anse.

September 25, 2013 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

If this isn't a deliberate parody of furiously solemn, self-conscious artistic pretension, it's an accidental one.

September 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Audience Reviews for As I Lay Dying

As their mother dies, a family journeys across the county to bury her.

Dear James Franco,
Stop.
Thanks,
Jim

While adapting William Faulkner's multi-voiced and complexly written novel is no easy task, James Franco's film fails on almost every level. It seems like everybody who had an idea got their idea into the film, and the result is a mishmash shitfest. The split-screen, direct address of the camera, the shots of Tim Blake Nelson drooling all combine to prove that James Franco should never direct a film again. Let's just take the split-screens: I've almost never seen split-screens work (the one exception that immediately comes to mind is (500) Days of Summer), but the reason they don't work is they take a responsibility that should belong to the director and transfer that responsibility to the audience. Rather than choosing what to show you, Franco puts the onus on you to decide what to watch. Likewise the direct address shots and reaction shots are indicative of a filmmaker who can't tell his story visually.
On the positive side, when I read the novel, I imagined Tim Blake Nelson and Logan Marshall-Green in these roles. The casting is perfect, and while the script isn't good, these actors make it seem better than it is.
Overall, I hope James Franco goes back to just looking good in movies.
April 20, 2014
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

This drama based on the novel As I Lay Dying by William Fulkner seemed like a difficult task for anyone, but it seemed that James Franco didn't think so... he was the star, co-writer and a director and did an amazing job! There is no wonder that his directorial debut was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival - simply deserved it! One of the bravest brave and most interesting attempts to pull off a film with a high degree of difficulty.

The story of a grim journey which becomes a tragic ordeal of poverty and misery was unforgettable. Franco co-stars as Darl Bundren, the glowering son in a dirt-poor family in rural Mississippi. Tim Blake Nelson is the haggard, toothless father Anse, and Beth Grant plays the dying mother Addie Bundren. Jim Parrack and Logan Marshall-Green play Cash and Jewel, the other two grownup brothers; Ahna O'Reilly plays their sister Dewey and Brady Permenter is the smallest child, Vardaman. When Addie dies, the family attempts to honour her last wish for a burial in her far-off hometown of Jackson, a plan that necessitates taking the body on a long journey in a home-carpentered coffin on the back of a precarious horse-drawn cart, with the whole family glumly along for the ride.

One of the most interesting productions in the recent ways has Franco presenting the big part of the story in split screen. Long, unhurried scenes will unfold, with mumbled, throwaway dialogue (I really had a problem with the accent, almost half of the movie was difficult to understand). Franco is skilfully using two different frames, left and right: sometimes they will show two differing and significant shots, sometimes hardly more than a fractured version of the same shot. Sometimes they will be two almost exactly similar shots of the same featureless sky, with the non-matching vertical join line almost invisible. Lots of critics will take this as gimmicky and self-conscious, but it is consistently and seriously presented, and Franco's As I Lay Dying is a worthwhile movie, approached in an intelligent and creative spirit.

Acting of the whole cast was very strong, with a star turn from Nelson as the prematurely aged patriarch - transformation which is to be seen to be believed! If you are interested in all this presented lucidly and confidently - check this film!
January 21, 2014
PantaOz
Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

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