Wednesday, June 18, 2008

As I Lay Dying

Author(s): Brett
Location: Wisconsin

“As I Lay Dying"

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Novel by: William Faulkner
Edited by: Christopher Tellefsen
Music by: T-Bone Burnett
Art Direction by: Gord Peterson
Cinematography by: Roger Deakens

Principal Cast:

Anse Bundren: Chris Cooper
Addie Bundren: Sissy Spacek
Cash Bundren: Matthew McConaughey
Darl Bundren: Ryan Gosling
Jewel Bundren: Heath Ledger
Dewey Dell Bundren: Evan Rachel Wood
Vardaman Bundren: Cameron Bright
Vernon Tull: Albert Finney
Cora Tull: Kathy Bates
Dr. Peabody: Tom Wilkinson
Brother Whitfield: David Strathairn
Lefe: Jake Gyllenhaal

Tagline: “My mother is a fish”

Synopsis: Addie Bundren is on her deathbed. She's frail, sickly, and slipping closer to the hands of god with every shallow breath. With her heavy eyes slowly closing, Addie makes her final request: to be buried far away from her Yoknapatawpha County homestead in her birthplace of Jefferson, Mississippi. With her grief stricken family gathered around her, she makes her final goodbyes. And then, she takes her penultimate breath…As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner's famed sardonic masterpiece, is the biting story of the Bundren family's hap hazardous pilgrimage across the lonely 1920's Mississippi backcountry. Filled with complex characters and a rich storyline, it gets a fresh breath of live from visionary director Bennett Miller and the Coen brothers, uniquely told through several different first person narratives. The story centers around six main characters, each with their own miseries, each with their own heartaches. First, there's Addie's husband Anse. A bumbling, toothless idiot, Anse is relieved with the death of his wife, and eager to make the trek into town so he can get himself a new pair of teeth. There's Cash, the painfully silent carpenter, assigned to the daunting task of constructing his own mother's coffin. Darl, Addie's second son, is the most ubiquitous center of the tale. Struggling with his own inner pain and agony, we see the Bundren world most uniquely through his tear filled eyes. We also meet Jewel, the bitter, profane black sheep who makes every attempt possible to separate himself from the rest of the family. Unbeknownst to his own father, Jewel is the product of Addie's sinful affair with the town pastor, Brother Whitfield. We also meet Addie's only daughter, Dewey Dell, who carries a painful secret. At just 17, Dewey Dell has her own ambitions for making it into town: to get an abortion. And finally, we meet the tragic Vardaman, Addie's mentally retarded 13 year old son, who becomes so grief stricken with his mother's death that he gets her confused with none other than a dead fish.

And so begins the journey. With coffin in toe, the Bundrens make their disastrous and strangely comedic trek through roaring rivers, dustbowls, and the occasional fire on their old broken down wagon. And throughout their dysfunctional journey through Mississippi, each character takes their own personal journey inside themselves, examining the relationship they had with their mother, and what will come to define them without her.

What the press would say:

Director Bennett Miller and the famed Coen Brothers team up on his sophomore film for William Faulkner's ode to southern humor in a tale of family, secrecy, and sin in depression era Mississippi. With As I Lay Dying, you are really experiencing six films of insurmountable comedic tragedy all intertwined into a single tour de force. With the sultry and sweeping art direction and masterful cinematography, the 1920's south is painted ever so perfectly across the silver screen. Each character, immortalized through the years, is flawlessly brought to life by the stunning performances given. Darl, played by the horribly underrated Ryan Gosling, brings truth and hope to this otherwise cynical and blackened dramedy with his eye opening leading role. Chris Cooper is wonderful as the despicable patriarch of the family with a hidden agenda. Also, look for the fantastically hilarious supporting roles by Heath Ledger, Matthew McConaughey, Kathy Bates, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Tom Wilkinson, Jake Gyllenhaal, and especially young veterans Evan Rachel Wood and Cameron bright, who despite their age portray their multifarious roles with the greatest of ease. The greatest performance, however, may just be by Sissy Spacek, playing Addie Bundren herself. Although her role is merely a sporadic array of flashbacks and missed memories, you will no doubt await her next appearance throughout the film. Her cinematic feat is ethereal, touching, and overall, a grand magnus opus within itself. This film is a brilliant, marvelous modern take on a famed American classic that will move you in ways you'd have never thought possible. With this film, you'll reconnect with America's first dysfunctional family all over again, and love every minute of it.

For Your Consideration:

Best Picture: Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Director: Bennett Miller
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ryan Gosling, Chris Cooper
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Cameron Bright, Matthew McConaughey, Heath Ledger
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Sissy Spacek, Evan Rachel Wood
Best Original Score: T-Bone Burnett
Best Art Direction: Gord Peterson
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakens
Best Editing: Chris Tellefsen

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