The Sound and the Fury ★★★★

I give James Franco a lot of credit. In his directing efforts, he goes into territory many would avoid. This is a case in point, in that William Faulkner's classic American novels are seen as un-filmable (and often unreadable). And yet it's the second Faulkner novel Franco's adapted, the first being "As I Lay Dying" (2013).

I think he did a fine job here. It's the story of an aristocratic Mississippi family after they've lost much of their land and money. The dysfunction of just about every member is on display. The eldest brother is ruthlessly cruel and steals from the others. The middle son is depressed and sexually repressed. The youngest son (played by Franco) has severe cognitive impairment. The daughter, which whom each brother has a preoccupation, is promiscuous, has a child out of wedlock and is treated by the mother and the cruel oldest brother as a "fallen woman" and is forced to leave the family home.

Franco breaks the film up into three parts (Faulkner has four, so this film combines the last two), each focusing on one of the brothers. The first two segments are rather hard to follow, as it shifts back and forth in time and there's a fair amount of stream-of-consciousness. I actually read the Wikipedia synopsis before watching this, as I had not read the novel and knew that Faulkner's style and narrative were challenging. I recommend that other viewers do the same. Yes, I knew the spoilers in advance but I was able to easily follow the plot.

Great acting by all. Franco's depiction of a mentally-disabled man was a bit over-the-top but it actually suited the film. A few of the other actors apparently are often in Franco's efforts. I especially liked Loretta Devine as the long-suffering matriarchal servant of the family. Haunting music and effective photography and sets all made it work for me.

As I mentioned at the start, I had also seen Franco's "As I Lay Dying" as well as his adaptation of Steinbeck's "In Dubious Battle" (2016) and was impressed by all three. He has certainly had some misfires but he takes risks and I respect his creativity and courage in filmmaking.

The film is available for streaming through Amazon Prime, which is how I saw it.