James Franco managed to desecrate William Faulkner, and now he’s taking on William Shakespeare.
Franco unveiled his latest piece de resistance, a five minute short film based on Shakespeare’s famous and beloved play Romeo and Juliet, on VICE Friday afternoon.
The Gothic video transitions jaggedly from black and white to colour, inducing a sense of nausea and dread for whatever the rest of the video is about to show.
It’s easy to pick out his influences for the video, from Harmony Korine and Larry Clark (Kids) to Melina Matsoukas and Terry Gilliam.
It’s practically terrestrial, but even its other worldly vibe does little in making this stinking piece of preposterous pretentious poppycock anything more than that.
Franco explains in his VICE piece the themes of Romeo and Juliet are far grander than love (which isn’t necessarily wrong), and uses his view of intimacy between young lovers to examine the concept of humanity itself.
“Shakespeare takes the story of ill-fated lovers and uses it to open the box of human existence, to show us that the connections between humans are more elevated than the automatic copulation of animals or the pollination of flowers because of the poetry pricked by the emotions of intimacy,” Franco writes.
He further explains that Romeo and Juliet should be seen through modern day obstacles that couples, like Kim and Kanye he suggests, have to deal with consistently.
“Even Kim and Kanye, who seem happy and made for each other, have the looming specter of the public eye and the media putting pressure on their not-so-private lives,” he says. “If they shut themselves off from cameras and attention—if they stopped giving us salacious glimpses of their beautiful, outrageous lives and we stopped demanding those glimpses—theirs would be a very different love.”
While comparing Shakespeare’s groundbreaking story of Romeo and Juliet to the it couple of the past decade may seem sacrilegious, it’s nowhere near as rancid as the soundtrack Franco uses to instil some kind of tragic emotion in his viewers.
Crafted by Franco’s own band that he formed with NYU mates, Daddy, it almost plays as an electronic ode to Ian Curtis and Joy Division’s alternative and depressive sound from the ‘80s.
Even that good-natured attempt, however, comes off sounding just as pretentious and over the top as its visual partner.
The most fun someone could have with this video is by starting a stopwatch and seeing how long they could get through without tossing their headphones and giving up in anguish.
Good luck to the best of you.