Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Henry Poole Is Here

"Henry Poole Is Here" (Mark Pellington, 2008) Austere (even for a Wilson brothers film) existentialist film that follows Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) to close out his life in old haunts from his past. No such luck. He has inquisitive neighbors, including the lady next door (Adriana Barraza) who has ties to the house Poole just bought (it was her old boy-friend's), and the silent little kid next door (Morgan Lily), who likes to record conversations and play them back.

Pretty soon Poole,
who is isolating himself, is feeling surrounded. Things don't help when a water-stain in his stucco house is interpreted to be the face of Jesus (complete with bloody tear-streaks), and the local church starts to hold unscheduled visitations. Can't a man wallow in his own self-pity in peace?

Not in suburban L.A. Poole would be perfectly miserable to just run off believers every once in awhile and get back to his non-existence, but then the miracles start happening—the "blind" can see, and the mute begin to talk,
Henry starts to date the cute neighbor next door (Radha Mitchell)—pretty soon, the miraculous becomes too commonplace to miss, to say nothing of the ending of the movie, which schlumpfs to a feel-good ending that only feels half-deserved.

Still, one should be grateful to come across a simple life-affirming film that manages to be cynical and inspiring, without feeling like you're treading through hot molasses.

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