This is a mess of a film, which feels like the work of a first time director. Far from it, as Franco has made tons of films only a few of which I was aware of; this is, impossibly, his 8th film.
The biggest problem for me, is the switch in style. The first act – conveniently denoted by an “I” as I assume was the case in the novel – appears to be so reverentially devoted to the novel that Franco actually puts text from the novel up on screen. That, combined with the narration from multiple characters, makes it feel like he didn’t adapt the film, he rather sought to replicate the novel. It feels like a combination of a student film and a community theatre production. There seems to have been potential here to make a really interesting adaptation here, like a mockumentary or something – I haven’t read the book, but I say this based upon what’s on screen – but instead it comes across as a bizarre mess.
The second and third acts (conveniently denoted by II and III) are considerably better but are utterly unlike the first. For one thing, we jump around in time in the narrative (a teeny tiny bit). I don’t know what Franco was trying to prove here by switching tactics so much… maybe it was in the source material. Regardless, I think a decent movie might have been made out of these two parts, had it not been for the awful opening segment.
- Directed by James Franco
- Produced by Caroline Aragon, Vince Jolivette, Miles Levy
- Screenplay by James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Based on Child of God
by Cormac McCarthy
- Scott Haze as Lester Ballard
- Tim Blake Nelson as Sheriff Fate
- James Franco as Jerry
- Jim Parrack as Deputy Cotton
- Fallon Goodson as Girly
- Vince Jolivette as Ernest
- Brian Lally as John Gree
- Music by Aaron Embry
- Cinematography by Christina Voros
- Edited by Curtiss Clayton
- Production companies: Rabbit Bandini Productions, Made In Film-Land
- Distributed by Spotlight Pictures
- Release date: August 31, 2013
- Running time: 104 minutes
- Country: United States
- Language: English