James Franco simply does not know how to stop working. So far this year, his film, “Interior. Leather Bar.,” debuted at Sundance; his adaptation of “As I Lay Daying” premieres at Cannes next month; and oh yeah, he starred in “Oz the Great and Powerful” and “Spring Breakers” which both came out this past March. It would be news if he announced that he was going on vacation, but that is not the case here. He has added yet another project to his slate.
Deadline has announced that Franco is set to direct and star in “The Garden of Last Days,” an adaptation based on the bestselling novel by Andre Dubus III (“House of Sand and Fog.”) The film, set in present day New York, will tell three interwoven stories: “a stripper out of options who brings her 3-year-old daughter to work; an angry, lonely man who gets thrown out of the club; and a foreigner with an endless supply of cash on the brink of committing a terrifying act.” Here’s the full book synopsis:
In his long-awaited new novel, Dubus fashions another disturbing and revealing encounter between an American woman on the edge and an intense Muslim man. But in this risky and relentless tale set on the verge of 9/11, sexual mores serve as a gauge of the perilous divide between American freedom and Muslim extremism. April is a single mother living in Florida and working as a stripper. When Jean, her babysitter and landlady, is unexpectedly hospitalized, she brings her three-year-old daughter to the Puma Club for Men, clearly courting trouble. And sure enough, while April performs in private for Bassam, a high-strung stranger with a surplus of cash and misery, all hell breaks loose. Narrating commandingly in five voices, Dubus ramps up the suspense while circling back to reveal April’s cruel indoctrination into the stripper’s life, the tragedy that made Bassam a jihadist, Jean’s sorrows, Lonnie the bouncer’s secret, and the dangerous despair of a man he forcibly ejects from the club. Improvising on the pre-attack actions of the 9/11 terrorists, Dubus’ hyperdetailed, visceral, and prurient yet undeniably compassionate thriller boldly explores the bewildering complexities of sexuality, and the dire repercussions of isolation and desperation.
Franco, as a director, seems particularly interested in making films adapted from novels, perhaps drawing from his time as an English Literature major at Yale. On top of “Last Days” and “As I Lay Dying,” he’s already tackled Cormac McCarthy’s “Child of God,” which appears to still be in the editing room at the moment. Production on “The Garden of Last Days” is set to begin in early July.