Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Color of Time

By submitting nearly everything he creates for public approval, regardless of whether it's substantial enough to hold up to that kind of scrutiny, James Franco does no favors to not-ready-for-prime-time works like The Color of Time. The multihyphenate gathered students he had taught at New York University's film school to write and direct this fictional imagining of the life of poet C.K. Williams, which, despite stellar performances in the main roles, feels nearly weightless and painfully derivative.

An episodic mood poem, the film follows Williams as he rifles through old memories while preparing for a reading. Various incarnations of the poet (among them Zachary Unger and Jordan March as boys, Henry Hopper as a youth, and Franco as a young adult) appear in the flashbacks, most of which involve Williams's sensitive and beautiful young mother (Jessica Chastain), his first love (a luminous Danika Yarosh), his wife (Mila Kunis), or a friend (Zach Braff) who died young. Not surprisingly, given the ages of the writer-directors, the most successful scenes are depictions of emotions common to childhood or adolescence, including the exquisite awkwardness of very young lovers who want to touch, but don't yet know how, and the potent mixture of existential loneliness and freedom you may feel if you're young and on your own. The three principal actors all do very fine work, with Chastain and Franco exuding a wistful soulfulness that's nicely balanced by Kunis's sparkling energy and playful wit. Read the rest on Slant Magazine

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