CHILD OF GOD – A Review by John Strange

By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: James Franco
Cast: James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parrack, Scott Haze, Fallon Goodson
MPAA Rating: R (for disturbing aberrant sexual content, nudity, language and some violence)
Selig Rating: MATINEE
Runtime: 104 Min.
Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) was a child who was raised with no adult supervision, no one to teach him the way of the world following the hanging death of his father.  As a result he lives on the edge of civilization but is not really civilized.  When his family farm is sold out from under him he is forced to find a place to live.
Stumbling upon a shack in the woods, he makes himself a home, adding a mattress and a few odds and ends, he makes the drafty line shack his.  He hunts in the woods for his food and occasionally raids his old family farm for the odd chicken.  He does chores for people to earn money to pay for the items he can’t find any other way.
We watch as the young man slowly slips into the throws of insanity.  Lester begins to exhibit some extremely bizarre behavior.  Finding a couple who have died while having sex in their running car due to carbon monoxide poisoning, he discovers the joy of sex with dead females.  He takes the dead girl back to his cabin and courts her in his mind before having sex with her again.
One really cold night he loses the cabin when the fireplace sets it ablaze.  He loses both his home and his woman in one night.  From here he moves into the local caves.  He desire for sex continues to grow and people begin to disappear from their cars when they go up on the mountain to be alone together.
The story is based upon the novel ‘Child of God’ by Cormac McCarthy.  Child of God is a difficult film to watch for all that it is extremely well made.  The script is excellent and the casting choices are very good.  Tim Blake Nelson’s portrayal of Sheriff Fate is spot on as a Southern law officer in this story set in Sevier County, Tennessee in the 40’s.  It is told in a documentary style that really fits the subject matter well.
If it weren’t such a bizarre film, I would rate it higher on our scale.  As it is, I think most film aficionados will like it but the average family needs to stay as far away from it as possible.  This is NOT one for the kids to watch.  I missed this one when it played at the Dallas International Film Festival.  I thank the folks at Well Go USA Entertainment for giving me the second chance to see it!
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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