First Look: Matthew McConaughey in Gus Van Sant's 'The Sea of Trees'

Friday, 12 September 2014 08:34 Written by  iamrogue
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First Look: Matthew McConaughey in Gus Van Sant's 'The Sea of Trees'

The first look at The Sea of Trees allows you to go on a walk in the woods with Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe.

Unfortunately, you'll be strolling through the Aokigahara forest in Japan, one of the world's most popular suicide locations.

McConaughey is, of course, on fire these days.  Coming off the hot streak that culminated in his Academy Award for Dallas Buyers Club, he next stars in Christopher Nolan's scifi epic Interstellar.  In this drama, though, he plays Arthur, a man lost in an existential funk who goes to the forest at the foot of Mount Fuji seeking philosophical answers.  There, he encounters a Japanese man (the great Watanabe) looking to take his own life.

Obviously, this is heavy stuff, not necessarily too distant from the tone of True Detective, the HBO series starring McConaughey. 

“They are very different projects and characters yet they are both poetic,” McConaughey tells Entertainment Weekly, which debuted the first image. “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 Sea of Trees is the latest from Gus Van Sant, the two-time Oscar nominee who directed Milk, Good Will Hunting, Elephant, My Own Private Idaho, Gerry, and Drugstore Cowboy.

“Gus is a wonderful voyeur and a really gentle soul of a man," says the actor. "He’s got the right sensibility for a film like this. He listens and considers any ideas that I throw at him and I undeniably trust the direction he gives me. He’s a lot of fun to create with.”


Sounds like The Sea of Trees is more of the arthouse Van Sant than the crowd-pleasing drama Van Sant.  The screenplay is by Chris Sparling, who is best known for the single-location horror movies Buried and ATM.

While the film is something of a two-hander between McConaughey and the criminally underappreciated Watanabe, the cast also includes Naomi Watts and Katie Aselton.

Production on The Sea of Trees encompasses both Japan and rural Massachusetts.  Shooting is still underway and while a release date is a long way off, we're expecting the film to debut next fall or winter so as to be a part of next year's awards season scrabble.

"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," McConaughey promises of this fascinating drama.

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