Another instance of Franco playing Franco playing Franco, the Tribeca Festival-premiered Francophrenia (or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is) dissects celebrity—and this particular celebrity's craziness.
At this point it's become a cliché to dredge up James Franco's refashioning of his public image from that of a moderately famous actor to the culture's leading multi-hyphenate. The actor/filmmaker/conceptual artist/PhD candidate/Oscar host/lip-sync fanatic's propensity for trying on new careers is so well-known it's been parodied by Saturday Night Live—the sure sign of a worn-out meme.
Franco has framed his almost-comical productivity as his best way of making the most of his celebrity. "I try to get a lot of attention," he recently told Vulture, "but I try to spread the attention around, to get people interested in the things I'm interested in." In Francophrenia (or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is)—an introspective, experimental pseudo-documentary Franco conceived and collaborated on with director Ian Olds—the 34-year-old embarks on a deeper level of self-examination, baring the soul of a man who's trying to make sense of the madness surrounding him.
That makes Francophrenia one of the most intriguing movies currently showing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Simultaneously an existential exploration of out-of-control celebrity and a send-up of the movie-star ego, the film follows Franco as "Franco," the character he played on his General Hospital stint, during the shooting of a special episode at Los Angeles's Museum of Contemporary Art.