Matthew McConaughey and Naomi Watts in a movie directed by Oscar-nominated Gus Van Sant should be a sure thing.
But ‘Sea Of Trees’ has made a stunningly poor $2730 (just over 2000 quid) in its first five days on release in the US.
It cost $25 million (about £20 million) to make.
The movie was made last year, and is set in the Aokigahara forest in Japan, at the bottom of Mount Fuji, known as the ‘suicide forest’ due to the number of people who go there to take their own lives (54 were recorded in 2010 alone).
McConaughey plays a businessman who goes there to do just that, but meets another man, Takumi, played by Ken Watanabe, who is planning to do the same.
According to the movie’s synopsis, the pair then go on a journey of ‘self-reflection’ together.
But on its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or, it was mercilessly panned by critics.
It currently holds a lowly 9% ‘fresh’ rating on reviews aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
Justin Chang in Variety called it ‘dramatically stillborn’ and ‘commercially unpromising’.
He added: “Almost impressive in the way it shifts from dreary two-hander to so-so survival thriller to terminal-illness weepie to M. Night Shyamalan/Nicholas Sparks-level spiritual hokum, this risibly long-winded drama is perhaps above all a profound cultural insult, milking the lush green scenery of Japan’s famous Aokigahara forest for all it’s worth, while giving co-lead Ken Watanabe little to do other than moan in agony, mutter cryptically, and generally try to act as though McConaughey’s every word isn’t boring him (pardon the expression) to death.”
On Indiewire, Oliver Lyttelton added that with its ‘complete lack of narrative momentum, it all adds up to a film that’s easily Van Sant’s worst, and is a sad black mark on McConaughey’s mostly excellent recent run. Ultimately, ‘Sea of Trees’ feels like an entirely appropriate title: it makes you feel like you’re drowning, and it’s full of sap.”
Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian called it a ‘a fantastically annoying and dishonest tear-jerker’.
Image credits: A24/AP