Set in Rural Tennessee in the early 1960's, 'Child of God' tells the story of Lester Ballard - a dispossessed, childlike man with no home, family or friends to speak of. Identified as the local menace he retreats with his rifle to the woods, setting up a makeshift home in an abandoned cabin. Alone and far away from any form of human contact he descends further into isolation and becomes even more unhinged. Physically diminished yet unbroken, his crimes become grotesquely unnatural as he regresses in to an almost animal like state.
Difficult film, disturbing subject matter, but a quite remarkable performance by Scott Haze
- Child of God review by RP
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You rated this film: 4
Cormac McCarthy is regarded as one of America's most important modern novelists, but his works are regarded as 'difficult'. Some have been turned into successful films - 'No Country For Old Men' (4 Oscars, including Best Picture, 3 BAFTAs) and 'The Road' (1 BAFTA). Now comes director James Franco with the film version of Cormac McCarthy's 1965 novel, 'Child of God'. So, what's it like?
Set in Tennessee mountain country, it deals with the life of one Lester Ballard who lives alone in the woods. Be aware that the film covers some disturbing subjects including mental illness, homelessness, isolation and descent into degradation and has scenes of defecation, masturbation, necrophilia and murder, with plenty of mucus thrown in for good measure. This makes for some difficult viewing - it won't be everyone's cup of tea.
The film sticks pretty closely to the novel and its three-part structure, although the ending is different as Lester is shown making for the woods again.
This is not a film to be 'enjoyed'. What I can admire is the quite remarkable performance of Scott Haze who plays Lester Ballard. To say that he throw himself into the part whole-heartedly is an understatement - if anything, it's an over-the-top performance full of guttural gruntings and drooling.
Frankly, it's a pretty average film based on disturbing subject matter so I would normally rate it as 3/5 stars. But Scott Haze's performance is so remarkable that I'll give it another star for effort. 4/5 stars - but it's not suitable viewing for your granny or for children.