‘Child of God’ Trailer: James Franco Tackles One of Cormac McCarthy’s Weirdest Books
Something about movie magic and the terrors bouncing around in Cormac McCarthy’s skull makes for a good pair. No Country for Old Men unforgettably educated us about the cattle gun. The Counselor had Cameron Diaz intercoursing a Ferrari. The Road … actually, let’s not talk about the nightmares of The Road. Let’s focus instead on how James Franco has directed, co-written, and acted in an adaptation of 1973’s Child of God, McCarthy’s third novel and one of his most starkly psychotic. In short, it’s the ballad of Lester Ballard, a mentally unhealthy and increasingly violent vagrant in rural Tennessee.
Scott Haze, who also appeared in Franco’s As I Lay Dying, will go full-primal in the lead role. Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Lincoln) is also in the mix as a Tim Blake Nelson–ish sheriff. Critics who saw the film last September at the Venice Film Festival weren’t doing backflips about it, but I did find this great, totally unprovable datum on IMDb: “Actor Scott Haze moved to Sevierville, Tennessee to prepare for the dynamic and challenging role of Lester Ballard. Scott Haze lived in an isolated cabin in the woods, lost 50lbs and was reportedly sleeping in caves some nights.” Sounds exactly like something Franco would ask his lead actor to do, right? Or like something Franco’s lead actor would do just because he was working with Franco, without even being asked. And if it’s totally false, watching the movie while imagining it’s true will still be a trip.