What do Janet Jones Gretzky and Seth Rogen have in common?
They both show up in James Franco's "The Sound and the Fury," more evidence that Franco lacks the cinematic imagination to come close to being the Orson Welles of his generation as he imagines himself to be.
A few scenes achieve dramatic intensity, but director Franco's impressionistic effects show little of the originality of the legendary film auteurs he desperately seeks to emulate.The film in rigidly following "The Sound and the Fury's" plot reveals the book's weaknesses rather than the power of Faulkner's language and vision.
In a flailing attempt to show she's a "serious" actress, Gretzky's not that bad as the neurasthenic mother of the doomed Compson clan.
Watching Ahna O'Reilly's perfunctory, earnest portrayal of the promiscuous daughter Caddy, I kept thinking how much more exciting Paulina Gretzky would have been in the role.
While Franco was anointed as a young Brando early in his career, he painfully blunders in his overwrought performance as the idiot Compson brother Benjy. He emphasizes Benjy's lack of emotional and physical control, making him an oafish menace rather than the sympathetic character Faulkner intended.
The best Compson performance is Scott Haze as the mean-spirited, unfulfilled Jason. Tim Blake Nelson as the alcoholic father sinks into cliche, as do the stereotyped black characters. Jacob Loeb's mopey Quentin lacks tragic intensity.
Rogen shows up in a cameo as a telegraph operator, giving the film a brief injection of comic zest.
I longed for some of the experimental exuberance of the Elevator Repair Service's theatrical rendering of "The Sound and the Fury" at New York City's Public Theater, which reveled in the book's comic excesses and the sexual confusion at the heart of the Southern experience.
Alas, the movie gives an emaciated version of Faulkner, with limited understanding of his characters' inner lives and the sense of place that defines his work.