As I Lay Dying (film)

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As I Lay Dying
File:As I Lay Dying 2013 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Franco
Produced by Caroline Aragon
Lee Caplin
Vince Jolivette
Avi Lerner
Miles Levy
Matthew O'Toole
Robert Van Norden
Written by James Franco
Matthew Rager
Based on As I Lay Dying 
by William Faulkner
Starring James Franco
Cinematography Christina Voros
Release dates
  • May 20, 2013 (2013-05-20) (Cannes)
  • October 11, 2013 (2013-10-11) (US)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English

As I Lay Dying is a 2013 American drama film directed and co-written by and starring James Franco, based on William Faulkner's novel of the same name published in 1930. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard Section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[1][2]


The story is based on the loss of a mother and the struggles in which the family suffers by going the distance to her burial grounds in her home town.[3]



James Franco decided to write a screenplay of the novel with a fellow Yale graduate student Matt Rager. The novel As I Lay Dying was described as a story impossible to be transformed into a film due to the multi-narrative voices within it.[4] Franco saw this as a challenge and was able to depict the many voices, through choices of styling through camera edits. Faulkner told this story in a chorus of voices: 15 narrators in the 59 chapters.[4] To locate an equivalent for the novel’s polyphonal scheme, Franco in relation to this decision employs the use of narrative expressed through dialogue and voice overs.[3]

Filming took place in Mississippi from August 21, 2012 to October 5, 2012.


The film was originally scheduled for a theatrical release on September 27, 2013 but Millenium Films scrapped the plans. It was released on October 22, 2013 to iTunes and November 5, 2013 to DVD/VOD platforms.


The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise and criticism focused on Franco's methods of presenting Faulkner's complex narrative. Kyle Smith of The New York Post was very harsh, declaring, "Franco dilutes the drama with first-year-film-student gimmicks, like split screens and slow motion, it just seems like a dull collection of pointless monologues from actors who can’t even be bothered to match up their accents."[5] A.O. Scott of The New York Times said, "But in rushing in where wise men might fear to tread, Mr. Franco has accomplished something serious and worthwhile. His “As I Lay Dying” is certainly ambitious, but it is also admirably modest. The script, written by Mr. Franco with Matt Rager, tries to pare Faulkner’s multivoiced narrative to a manageable essence."[6]

It holds a 41% 'rotten' rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.[7]


  1. "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. April 20, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lodge, Guy. "How has James Franco saturated the festival circuit?". HitFix Awards. Retrieved April 2, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Scott, A. O. "A Life Ravels Out, and a Brooding Family Sets Forth". New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Entin, Joseph. "Filming Faulkner's Modernism: James Franco's "As I Lay Dying"". Los Angeles Reviews Of Books. Retrieved April 2, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "'As I Lay Dying' murdered by Franco". New York Post. October 11, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "As I Lay Dying". Rotten Tomatoes. September 27, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links