Graham Reid | | 1 min read
A visual ode to memory, love, loss of innocence and the spectre of impending death because of the events at Three Mile Island, this film is an elusive construction drawing on the poems of the award-winning American writer CK Williams.
Written and directed by 12 New York University film students, it singles out a few key poems and periods in the poet's life -- non-chronological and with different actors as Williams, chief among them James Franco -- which are portrayed in bleached-out and sometimes honey-glowing exteriors, close-ups and jump-cuts, and strangey allusive imagery.
We see Williams as variously a reclusive child in fear of a dominating father but loved by a doting and exceptionally beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain), a young man in love, taking acid, trying to find his way in a rural idyll and watching as hell unfolds on television in images of Three Mile Island.
Pivotal to its construction is Williams' relationship with his wife Catherine (Mila Kunis in excellent, natural and vibrant form) and the creeping illness of his close friend (Zach Braff).
Franco has been down the poet route before (Howl about Allen Ginsberg) but this one is a much more slippery portrayal which is sometimes enormously engaging and at other times feels like we are being shown images which don't espcially add up to much.
Few would deny the influence of Terrence Malick in it's visual poetry and languidly constructed story-telling, but while the whole does add up to the sum of the parts, some of those parts are lesser vehicles for the revolving cast who play Williams.