Gus Van Sant's “The Sea of Trees,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe, has found a home. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions has acquired US rights to the film at the Cannes Film Festival, where it is playing in competition.
When I wrote up this year's awards prospects vis a vis Cannes, I noted that “The Sea of Trees” might, however, prove too esoteric if it's in the vein of films like “Gerry” and “Last Days,” towering achievements that just couldn't penetrate on the broad level of Academy recognition. From what I've been told by someone who has seen “Sea,” that's indeed the case, but the performances, I'm told, are exceptional. So maybe McConaughey or Watanabe can keep their races interesting. We'll know more Saturday after the film screens for international press.
Of course, Van Sant never really aims for the Academy's sweet spot. When things work out, it's generally on his terms. “Good Will Hunting” and “Milk” found their way to success, but he maintains his own intriguing obsessions as a director even when dabbling in more accessible material. So I'm very hopeful that “The Sea of Trees” is up there as one of his best, awards play or not.
More from the Cannes Film Festival as it happens.