Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, "Child of God" is based on the third novel by acclaimed writer Cormac McCarthy, first published in 1973. It tells the strange story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps." Ballard's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order in the 1960s. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.Written by
Scott Haze moved to Sevierville, TN, to prepare for the role of Lester Ballard. He lived in an isolated cabin in the woods, lost 50 pounds and was reportedly sleeping in caves some nights. See more »
When Lester is about to perform the act of necrophilia and he places the rifle against the Pontiac, he initially places it barrel down but after he finishes his deed and they show the outside of the car again, it is barrel up before it falls down to the ground. See more »
James Franco seems to be trying to make a reputation for himself as a director who will tackle "classic novels" that were considered to be unfilmable, as he did with AS I LAY DYING. Let's say this about the Cormac McCarthy source novel, though. You will hear a lot of praise heaped upon it by the literary intellectuals. What you hear, though, is that the author has an original way with his prose, or that it's well known for a distinctive writing style that is missing common punctuation. What you don't usually hear is "this is a stunningly original and exciting story". It's the style that is praised more than the story.
That has an obvious effect on this movie, then, as you cannot translate the prose to the screen (though Franco tries by injecting voice- overs and on screen text containing actual excerpts). What you are left with is a story that isn't all that exciting and has been done plenty of times. Yes, the necrophilia angle takes it further than most movies are willing to go, but in the end, this is just another Ed Gein influenced horror tales. What it desperately needed was to have something more happen in the actual events of the story. There is very little actual action and very little occurs in this movie. Prepare yourself to spend a great deal of the run time following our main character as he wanders around in the woods talking to himself.
It is the main character and the acting by Scott Haze that is the central reason anyone would want to watch this movie. It is mainly a character study of one man, who we meet in the beginning clearly already suffering from mental illness. Through the course of the events of the story, we watch his mental health further degrade until he is little more than a primal animal, living in a cave and acting out his sexual deviances on whatever victims stumble his way. Haze does an excellent job of portraying this character, who mostly mumbles his way through the movie, putting the emphasis on Haze to portray the characters mental instability through his facial expression. The character could have become a cardboard cutout villain, but through the acting of Haze and some directing by Franco, the character definitely has his sympathetic moments where we feel for the situations that have put him down this course in life.
Ultimately, though, I was just bored through most of the movie. I don't mind artistic. I don't mind low budget. I don't mind experimental. I am not someone who just doesn't have a tolerance for this style of film making. Instead, the only real action is a botched lynching that he escapes from far too conveniently. I just kept waiting for something to happen and it never did, including a huge letdown ending.
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