Matthew McConaughey plays a man who blames himself for his wife’s (Naomi Watts) alcoholism and impending death in the French trailer for Sea Of Trees, directed by Gus Van Sant. From the beginning of the preview, the couple is at each other’s throats. McConaughey scolds his wife for her frequent drinking, and she lambastes him for trying to be an “intellectual” while she pays the bills. They even do this when out at restaurants with friends, coming off as particularly noxious and self-absorbed people. But then of course an MRI discovers that Watt’s character has a tumor, and the two realize they still love each other.
This weepy narrative is interrupted by scenes of McConaughey wandering through a forest in Japan with Ken Watanabe, whose musings just might give the hero a new lease on life. The film appears too mawkish for its own good, honestly, and early reactions at Cannes last year weren’t exactly promising. The A.V. Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky described the film as a “fundamentally wrongheaded” project that amounts to “sticky metaphysical goop.” He also noted that “Van Sant’s direction is [largely] indifferent and anonymous, often suggesting a lesser Nicholas Sparks adaptation.” Damn, and trailer watchers were just starting to not like these characters.
The film premieres in Europe on April 27 and is still awaiting a U.S. release date.