* Character is "pushed out of society", Franco says
* Movie uses "dark subject matter" as metaphor -Franco
By Michael Roddy
VENICE, Aug 31 Director James Franco says the
character Lester Ballard in his new film "Child of God" has a
trace of Charlie Chaplin in him, though the tale of a
cave-dwelling necrophiliac is mostly as dark as can be.
Based on Cormac McCarthy's novella of the same name, the
movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday portrays
a Tennessee backwoodsman who has never recovered from his
father's suicide and sinks into ever deeper levels of
anti-social and psychopathic behaviour.
Franco said he sought permission from the "No Country for
Old Men" writer to film the seemingly unfilmable story because
it provided a way "for me to examine something that's pushed out
of civilised society".
But he also found elements of a fumbling, awkward comedy
that reminded him on Chaplin, though of a much darker nature
than anything the silent film star ever put on screen.
"He's kind of, in some ways he's kind of clumsy, he's, you
know, almost comedic," Franco told Reuters in an interview.
"Not laugh-out funny but he's a little ridiculous in some
ways and I felt like that's something I've never seen before on
the screen, a killer like this that's a little foolish or almost
like Charlie Chaplinesque."
That awkwardness shows through in one scene when Ballard,
played by Texan actor Steve Haze, struggles to push a woman's
body up a ladder into an attic.
"It's not a movie like 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' that is
drawing people in with the violence," Franco said.
"It's using the dark subject matter as, for me, using it as
a metaphor or as an extreme example of something that is more
general, a more general kind of a theme which is extreme
isolation, extreme loneliness and also somebody that is unable
to fit into the civilised society."
"I'm not trying to do a sympathetic portrayal of him. I
don't condone murder but it's a film, it's a piece of art. So in
that sense you can use this extreme subject matter to talk about
something more general and that was what was interesting."
Franco said the film is not as violent as the subject matter
suggests, and does not portray violence as graphically as some
recent films, though there are scenes that will make jaws drop.
"There were scenes that needed to kind of be explicit ... in
order to kind of make a mark but it's not a thriller, it's not a
horror movie," he told a post-screening press conference.
"It's more of a character study so the movie doesn't really
depend on violence."
(Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala in Venice; Editing by