If the debut trailer for Gus Van Sant’s philosophical drama The Sea of Trees focused more on the eerie setting of Aokigahara forest – the Japanese forest that, incidentally, also featured in Natalie Dormer-fronted thriller The Forest – then today’s international snippet for Van Sant’s spiritual pic places a laser focus on the leading stars.
Bearing the brunt of an existential crisis, it is Matthew McConaughey that is seen trudging through Japan’s infamous suicide forest, searching for some semblance of salvation and meaning amid a literal sea of tress. Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts also feature, with the latter playing McConaughey’s troubled wife, Joan Brennan.
Left battling a seemingly inoperable brain tumor, what little connection Joan and Arthur (McConaughey) had quickly dissolves, leading our troubled lead to venture into the titular woods where he encounters a deeply spiritual man played by Ken Watanabe.
It’s here that Sea of Trees bigs up the ol’ science versus religion debate, with McConaughey’s “man of science” finding himself at ends with Watanabe’s religious beliefs. Buried somewhere beneath this exposition is a raw and harrowing romance, though Gus Van Sant’s feature is facing a tall order if it is to win over critics following a mooted premiere late last year.
Expected to make another run at Cannes Film Festival in May, Roadside Attractions plans to release The Sea of Trees via limited run at some point later in the year. In the meantime, a fresh gallery of images spotlighting the film’s wayward souls can be found below.
Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) treks into Aokigahara, known as the Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan’s Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur’s will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife (Watts).