Here at Time Out, we love a bit of Franco. Maybe not quite as much as we love a bit of Gosling, but it’s close (Franco loves a bit of Gosling too, as this gushing tribute proves). And one of the things we love most about the twinkly-eyed star is his ever-increasing tendency towards excessive hyphenation: not content with being an actor, or even an actor-filmmaker, Franco has swiftly expanded into an actor-filmmaker-poet-scholar-author-journalist-shopkeeper-artist-awards-host-musician-model-philanthropist. And now he’s added director to that list – and not just those ‘experimental’ docs he’s been flashing around for the past couple of years.
An adaptation of William Faulkner’s book – one of those regular contenders for the title of The Great American Novel – ‘As I Lay Dying’ is a sprawling family saga starring Franco, Tim Blake Nelson and Logan Marshall-Green (nope, us neither) as the Bundren family, who make their way cross-country to bury the family matriarch – with hilarious consequences. Not really – it’s a tale of grief, heartbreak and tragedy. But is it any good? The film screened this week at the Cannes Film Festival, and Catherine Bray was on hand.