The Sea of Trees had all the markings of a hit. Matthew McConaughey stars in the lead following his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club and his binge-worthy True Detective performance, Gus Van Sant is at the helm, and the real-world source material practically writes itself: Japan’s infamous suicide forest at the base of Mt. Fuji dubbed “the sea of trees.” Nevertheless, the new trailer is a reminder of all the drama that ensued after the film’s dismal premiere.
The Sea of Trees premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2015, before which Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions were the distributors. Again, it seemed like a safe bet, but they later backtracked after critics bashed the film. Now it’ll be released by A24 Films, as noted in the trailer.
Watch the preview below.
McConaughey plays a man who travels to Japan in the midst of a personal crisis, which, as the footage shows, seems to involve his wife (Naomi Watts), who has a fatal condition. Upon entering the “sea of trees,” he encounters an injured man (Ken Watanabe) and the two set out on a journey to return him home as Arthur sees flashbacks of his relationship with his wife.
A24’s picks for releases are a library of great works, including Room, Ex Machina, and The Witch. A film like this with such negative reviews even before screening for more press seems like a gamble, even for them. The Sea of Trees, with a screenplay by Chris Sparly, will hit theaters on August 26.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Matthew McConaughey stars as Arthur Brennan, an American professor who travels to Japan in the midst of a personal crisis. As he wanders through a mysterious forest with a dark past, he experiences flashbacks of his fraught but loving relationship with his wife, Joan (Naomi Watts), and meets an enigmatic stranger, Takumi (Ken Watanabe), who is lost and injured. Arthur devotes himself to saving Takumi and returning him home to safety, and the two embark on a spiritual, life-changing journey of friendship, discovery, and healing.