The Sea of Trees was booed at Cannes, marking the first major career misstep Matthew McConaughey has made in a long while.
The actor ditched romantic comedies after Ghosts of Girlfriends past, and he worked hard to revamp his image by picking dramatic, critic-pleasing projects. He’s been on a roll in recent years, scoring roles in Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, and Interstellar. McConaughey also did a little something for the ladies by starring in the male stripper dramedy Magic Mike.
Matthew McConaughey has done an excellent job juggling crowd-pleasers and passion projects that get critical acclaim, but it looks like The Sea of Trees might fail to impress anyone — it was met with a sea of boos at Cannes, and its subject matter might be a bit too dark and depressing for mainstream audiences.
In The Sea of Trees, Matthew McConaughey plays a man who travels to the “suicide forest” at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan. It’s a real place that people visit to commit suicide, and McConaughey’s character is hoping to join the other sad souls who have taken their lives in the sea of trees. However, before he can do the deed, he encounters another man (Ken Watanabe) who has failed to kill himself after slicing his wrists. The men decide that they want to make it out of the forest alive, and their journey is peppered with flashbacks of McConaughey’s character and his now-deceased alcoholic wife (Naomi Watts).
It’s impossible to pinpoint just one reason why the latest movie from director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) was so ill-received at Cannes — critics have flooded the web with their lists of varying grievances against the film, and they’ve offered multiple explanations for why The Sea of Trees deserved to be booed.
Indiewire critic Eric Kohne dubbed The Sea of Trees “Gus Van Sant’s worst movie.” You realize this is one hell of an insult when you remember that Van Sant is responsible for the Psycho remake.
“Not even Matthew McConaughey can sustain the mushy, amateurish story, which digs itself a deeper hole as it moves along,” Kohne writes.
He also says that the movie “runs in circles” and that it “lingers in blatant, unimaginative sentimentality.” According to Kohne, the story eventually moves “into laughable supernatural territory,” and Matthew McConaughey’s performance is so toned-down that it’s “unmemorable.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy also didn’t have any praise for McConaughey.
“As the character sinks deeper into wet, self-pitying gushings, McConaughey’s performance conversely becomes less expressive and more ordinary, to the point where you simply don’t care about how he feels and what happens to him.”
Meanwhile, Esquire’s Jordan Hoffman is already asking if this is “the beginning of the end for the McConaissance,” noting that McConaughey is “turning into a bit of a sap.”
“The dialogue is wretched, the third-act twists are ludicrous, and the overwhelming score may as well be swapped out for director Gus Van Sant stepping before the camera to bark YOU FEEL EMOTION NOW. This is a pretty bad film.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, The Sea of Trees was also soundly booed on Twitter.
SEA OF TREES got booed… It could have been touching & haunting, but unfortunately was quite cheesy. I called the twist early #Cannes2015
— Alicia Malone (@aliciamalone) May 15, 2015
Gus Van Sants SEA OF TREES wins for the first Cannes booing I’ve ever witnessed. It was magical! (The booing. The movie was very bad!)
— Emily Yoshida (@emilyyoshida) May 15, 2015
@dicanio72 Sea of Trees was very poor. Comically bad in places.
— Stephen Mayne (@finalreel) May 16, 2015
A few film fans have been pointing out that movies that get booed at Cannes can go on to be popular with the general public, so perhaps one of McConaughey’s comments about The Sea of Trees will end up being a prophecy.
“I say another title for this film is ‘You’ve got to go through annihilation to get to salvation,'” the actor told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year.
Do you think The Sea of Trees will be booed by the non-Cannes crowd after it’s released for public consumption?
[Image credit: Jason Merritt/Getty]