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Overall Rating
2.14

Awesome: 4.55%
Worth A Look: 13.64%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad54.55%
Total Crap: 27.27%

3 reviews, 4 user ratings


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Henry Poole Is Here
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by William Goss

"Religulous"
2 stars

Filmmaker Mark Pellington is no stranger to the genre of paranoid thriller. 1999ís 'Arlington Road' and 2002ís 'The Mothman Prophecies' both featured protagonists who were coping with their awareness of being part of some grander scheme (if only to sinister ends). With 'Henry Poole is Here', he has directed a paranoid thriller that plays as an supposedly uplifting dramedy, and whose master plan does the titular individual find himself facing? Why, none other than Godís.

Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is dying, and he just wants to do so alone. However, between the inquisitive check-out girl, Patience (Rachel Seiferth), at the supermarket where he stocks up on booze and pizzas and the nosy neighbor, Esperanza (Adriana Barraza), who swears that the face of Jesus Christ, Superstain has appeared courtesy of a lousy stucco job, misery is attracting all the company it can, although worse company could certainly be found than that of single mother Dawn (Radha Mitchell) next door, the one with the voluntarily mute daughter. Henry, though, is constantly, inevitably, futilely up against the wall and all those who swear by it until he accepts the miracles it has to offer.

I forget which, but either Patience or Esperanza assures Henry that not everything has an explanation, but the only one offered up by Pellington and first-time screenwriter Albert Torres is God and God alone, a One-fits-all excuse for everything that comes Henryís way, every character and circumstance that exists solely for the purpose of convincing Henry to open up his heart, preferably in the name of the Lord. In this neighborhood, faith is not a choice but an ultimatum, afflictions only stand to be cured, and each day of life only counts as a gift if the Big Man left his name next to the bow.

Wait a minute Ė isnít ďour God loves you, or elseĒ the kind of mentality that has led to violent conflict across the globe and over the span of time? Actually, a radical holy war in the suburbs might make for an interesting movie after all, and by the time Beth Grant shows up as one of Esperanzaís pals, one recalls that Donnie Darko dared hint upon such a sensitive extension of logic. I mean, who better to cast judgment on you in your last days on Earth than your closest friends and neighbors?

Beyond the almost eerie groupthink, the agenda comes across as less of a pro-faith slant and more as anti-atheist (yes, there is a difference), with science shunned at every turn and the treatment of oneís belief in God and their belief in people as mutually dependent affirmations of life. The filmmakers seemingly cannot separate a message of purely spiritual or moral compassion and goodwill from an entire theology, and it soon becomes clear on which side of the line between whatís right and whatís righteous the production calls home.

Itís a crusade that preaches to the converted and engenders cynicism among the skeptical, and if it werenít for Wilsonís convincingly mopey performance as a man feeling forsaken, 'Henry Poole is Here' would seem a lot less like entertainment and a lot more like a flat-out sermon, or maybe even a piece of propaganda. Itís a pity, though: God only knows what mightíve happened if He didnít turn out to be the only answer.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16924&reviewer=409
originally posted: 08/15/08 23:12:07
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2008 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/10/09 Anonymous. i loved the way it ended. :] 4 stars
8/30/08 PAUL SHORTT A QUIET, GRACEFUL DRAMA THAT SNEAKS UP ON YOU 4 stars
8/18/08 George Barksdale Worth the look 4 stars
8/16/08 Marshall Louis Fantastic 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Aug-2008 (PG)
  DVD: 04-Nov-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Aug-2008
  DVD: 04-Nov-2008


Directed by
  Mark Pellington

Written by
  Albert Torres

Cast
  Luke Wilson
  Radha Mitchell
  Cheryl Hines
  Adriana Barraza



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