Documentary Review: ‘F For Franco’ Is A Thought Provoking, Artful Insight Into The World Of James Franco

Review by Mark Merrell

Writer and Director Francisco J. Ricardo takes us on a creative, insightful look at Actor, Producer, Director, and Artist, James Franco. The film begins with a quote from Picasso; “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth. Franco adds that, “The Artist should make a romantic stab at the world, and then cut his way, or die trying.”

Overlapping images at times provide an imaginative background for Franco, as well as Ricardo, who take moments narrating. Franco talks about how surreal his life is. He explains how he became interested and involved in acting. Driven on several levels to succeed in his craft, he talks about the moments that turned corners in his career path, and ultimately himself. Asked early on to remove his clothes (down to his underwear), he likens the craft of an actor to that of a prostitute of sorts. He also spoke about how a movie studio showed a conflicting set of standards.

Franco also explores the role of an artist. The challenge for actors and those that create art of all kinds is the stark division of commercially successful art, versus originality. As an artist, of any sort, after the struggle for success and finding it, they crave to produce. This can result in art that isn’t necessarily as accepted or generally as popular. All the while people are clambering for original films, but don’t attend, while studios continue to draw from the same well. Live versions of animated films, and sitcoms providing the majority of movie material instead.

The other fascinating aspect is the mindset one goes through. From the beginning quest to gain popularity as an actor, driven by the craft itself, or another factor, then suddenly finding yourself in the hurricane of the star-maker-machinery, standing in the middle of the haze, wondering if you truly have control of your persona or art.

The film is creative in it’s presentation and approach, all the while giving you an insight to Franco’s mindset. Provocative and interesting, it’s definitely a film to experience.

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