Disclaimer: I'd like to make it known that I'm a huge Franco fan and not just because we share a love of Faulkner.
Directed by James Franco, As I Lay Dying, made me feel that dying may have been a good alternative to seeing Addie Bundren buried in Jefferson. So much tragedy and grief, and poverty in such a short span of time. It's what Faulkner refers to as, "the outraged entrails of events."
Another name for this film could have been Brian De Palma's Great Influence on Billy Faulkner. This is not to say that the acting is not superb. It really is. I just think a split screen wasn't the best choice cinematically.
Another Disclaimer: I've never been a fan of the split screen.
It may have worked had the film been a modernized version but nothing about Faulkner screams dual image to me. His work is very singular. Complex characters with very few choices. There are no forked roads or turning points for the characters of his novels--only family trees that have no branches and one-way paths that all lead to the 4Ds: destitution, dysfunction, depravity, and disgrace. Had Faulkner not been a writer, he would have made a damn good country-western singer.
I feel Franco captured the tragic essence of what should have been a simple burial. The film did a great job of following the original story of a poor, desperate family's attempt to honor the matriarch's dying wish.The only thing I didn't find engaging was the split screen, and that's just a personal thing. Don't be offended James. I still adore you.
Oh, and if anyone ever figures out what the hell Anse is saying throughout the film, drop me a line and let me know.