James Franco and 11 of his NYU graduate students attempt to bring C.K. Williams’ poetry to life in The Color of Time. With a stellar cast including Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, and Jessica Chastain, the film sacrifices narrative structure for the sake of being artistic. Through a Polaroid-type lens, the story flashes back to poignant moments of the life of “C.K. Williams” (Jordan March, Henry Hopper, and James Franco) from youth to old age.
In the midst of trying to be unique, the film is a full-fledged cliché, filled with moments of fuzzy nostalgia of C.K.’s perfect, sun-kissed mother (Chastain), fights and reconciliations with his girlfriend (Kunis), and wide shots of a pondering man in nature. We see Williams’ life story through a series of film reels and hear his poetry through voiceovers as he prepares for a speech. The moments of his life aren’t necessarily attention-grabbing – he’s driving, he’s thinking, it’s quiet, it’s noisy, it’s quiet again – fine for real life (or a documentary), but dull for a full-length feature film.
Although the story itself is a sleeper, the performances, as expected, are spot-on. Jessica Chastain, in a limited role similar to her character in The Tree of Life, delivers a strong performance as Williams’ mother, enjoying the outdoors with her son and letting the glowing sunlight bask on her perfect hair and flawless skin. The relationship between Williams and his girlfriend/wife is convincing, with Franco and Kunis believable as a couple evolving over time – an effortless mix of their acting and real-life history having filmed three movies together. The versatility of the two is a highlight of the otherwise painfully boring The Color of Time. Franco and Kunis play a quiet, somewhat normal in comparison to their magical, supernatural roles in the 2013 fantasy Oz: The Great and Powerful and uproariously funny thugs in the 2010 comedy Date Night. With Franco, Kunis, and Braff famously known for their comedic roots (Freaks and Geeks, That 70s Show, Scrubs) their seemingly perfect transitions in and out of drama and overall ranges are still impressive. Unfortunately, their talents are mostly wasted on a dull script written by too many voices.
Review © Brigid K. Presecky (12/14/14)
Top Photo: Jessica Chastain as “Mrs. Williams”
Bottom Photo: James Franco as “C.K. Williams”
Photo Cred: Starz
Q: Does The Color of Time pass the Bechdel Test?
If there was any resemblance of a scene passing the Bechdel Test, I must have missed it as my eyes were struggling to stay open.