Matthew McConaughey dives into Gus Van Sant's 'Sea of Trees'

Posted by · 4:37 pm · February 4th, 2014

If Matthew McConaughey wins the Best Actor Oscar next month — and the smart money says he will — you could forgive the guy for taking his foot off the pedal a bit, and maybe dallying in one shoddy romantic comedy for old times’ sake. Instead, however, the McConnaissance is continuing unabated, as the revived Hollywood golden boy keeps signing up for one classy project after the next.

With Christopher Nolan’s upmarket blockbuster “Interstellar” out in November, MCConaughey has made his next commitment: the lead role in Gus Van Sant’s drama “Sea of Trees,” in which he’ll star opposite Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe.

The film, from an original script by “Buried” writer Chris Sparling, will star McConaughey as a suicidal American who befriends a Japanese man (Watanabe) in the titular forest at the base of Mount Fuji. That’s all the detail we have to hand, though the minimalism of the premise is promising.

With any luck, we’ll be getting Van Sant in the austere, formalist mode of “Gerry,” which would be a welcome switch after the drippy middlebrow disappointments of “Promised Land” and “Restless.” It’d be interesting, too, to see McConaughey in more of an art-film context: as strong as his recent run of projects has been, his creative comeback has yet to touch on something truly avant-garde.

Of course, I’m speculating here: this could be the “Finding Forrester” of forest-suicide movies. Either way, it’s a kick to see McConaughey add Van Sant to a roster of collaborators that, in the last three years alone, has been joinerd by Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, Jeff Nichols, Steven Soderbergh and Lee Daniels. “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” seems a lot more than five years ago.

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