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First Look: Matthew McConaughey & Ken Watanabe In Gus Van Sant’s ‘Sea Of Trees’

First Look: Matthew McConaughey & Ken Watanabe In Gus Van Sant’s ‘Sea Of Trees’

Drop your buzzword “McConnaissance” all you like, Matthew McConaughey’s about to make some art. From Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” in 2011 (or even arguably the deliciously good/bad B-movie “The Lincoln Lawyer“) to present day, McConaughey hasn’t stepped into a bad role. In fact, all of them have been good, if not great. Turns with William Friedkin, Steven Soderbergh, Martin Scorsese and Cary Joji Fukunaga have all been stellar. And a film with Christopher Nolan is coming this fall as a kind of cherry on top of all his success. But his next project, with Gus Van Sant, sounds a lot more minimalist, philosophical and lyrical.

Titled “Sea Of Trees,” in what sounds like a existential two-hander, McConaughey stars as a suicidal American on his way to die who befriends a Japanese man lost in a dense, mysterious forest near Mt. Fuji, and the two search for a way out. The movie co-stars Ken Watanabe as the Japanese man and Naomi Watts as Mac’s wife, but that’s really it. “They are very different projects and characters yet they are both poetic,” McConaughey told EW when asked about the differences between the movie and the similarly existential “True Detective” role. “I say another title for this film is ‘You’ve got to go through annihilation to get to salvation’. It’s one hell of a survival story.”

The movie is currently shooting in Massachusetts, and EW has the first look from the film. “Everyone is going to leave the theater and have their own walk and talk through the parking lot to muse about its meanings, what it was about and what it wasn’t, what was real and what was a dream.” So it sounds like the Gus Van Sant of “Elephant” and “Gerry” is showing up to work as opposed to, say, the Gus Van Sant of “Restless” (a more mainstream teen romance movie that didn’t work).

“Sea Of Trees” has no release date or distributor yet, but that should easily change. By the sounds of it, we might be able to expect this one at Cannes next year if we’re lucky.

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