Critic Reviews



Based on 13 critic reviews provided by
The film seems to have been made to suggest something of Faulkner's style in a cinematic medium, and it's certainly laudable that there have been very few concessions to the marketability of a project like this.
The Hollywood Reporter
Franco, employing diverse cinematic techniques from split screen (mostly early on) to direct-to-camera address, makes the Bundrens’ time of trial more immediately coherent than it is on the page without disrespecting Faulkner’s oblique style.
Slant Magazine
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.
Franco's As I Lay Dying is a worthwhile movie, approached in an intelligent and creative spirit. The ensemble work from the actors is generally very strong, with a star turn from Nelson as the prematurely aged patriarch, and the story is presented lucidly and confidently.
Franco offers up a competently acted, technically adequate Cliff Notes take on Faulkner’s narratively refracted tale of dirt-poor Mississippi folk in mourning.
As I Lay Dying is another Franco lark that is more of an experiment with form than a fully realized movie. One almost gets the sense that Franco is working out ideas with As I Lay Dying, with the goal of creating a cohesive film as a secondary ambition to simply capturing the feel of Faulkner's prose.
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.
They quickly smother whatever greatness was inherent in the material. Faulkner’s vivid, tragic and tender world is nowhere to be found here, and it's a deal breaker by any other name.
Franco adapted a book that often reads like joyless homework into a film that feels the same way.
The Dissolve
Putting Faulkner’s dialogue in actors’ mouths only underlines the fact that it was never meant to be read aloud, and simply cutting between one perspective and the next does nothing to evoke the rushing stream of collective consciousness that runs through Faulkner’s South.

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