|Henry Poole is Here
Genre: Drama, Romance
by: Mark Pellington
Starring: Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, Adriana Barraza, George Lopez, Cheryl Hines, Morgan Lily
Released by: Camelot Pictures
Short: Despite its well-intentioned topic, an overabundance of cheesy lines and bad clichés makes Henry Poole is Here easily dismissable.
Henry Poole Could be Here…But Isn't
Faith vs. Reason: A Topic Too Large to be Conquered
Right from its opening scenes, one can easily predict that Henry Poole is Here is one of those movies that can't function without cheesy moments. What isn't exactly clear, however, is how much the film drips with it. Luke Wilson stars as Henry Poole, a disillusioned man whose life's worth is heavily shadowed by disappointment and despair. Escaping to suburbia to isolate himself from the world, he quickly realizes that the human interaction he is trying to avoid lingers at every corner, through prodding neighbors like Esperanza (Adriana Barraza, whose Spanish accent comes off as forced and unconvincing) or the teenage grocery clerk named Patience (Rachel Seiferth), whose cache of worldly wisdom doesn't quite seem to fit her age.
The plot thickens when Esperanza discovers a water stain on Henry's wall, which she quickly discerns as "the face of God." She contacts the local priest (George Lopez), converts the wall into a shrine and invites neighbors to visit the apparition. This proves to be too much for Henry, who desperately yearns just to be left alone.
But curiosity develops after Henry encounters his neighbor Dawn (Radha Mitchell), a young, attractive woman who isn't quite as intrusive like everyone else. Attracted to her unassuming and welcoming persona, Henry’s façade melts as he starts to open his heart to her. And after Dawn's own daughter experiences a miraculous encounter with the wall, Henry also starts to question the possibility of something that could exist beyond what he sees.
Henry Poole examines the idea of miracles, a concept that is very easily pushed aside or satirized nowadays. The film's characters react with doubt, like the rationally driven Henry, and with faith, like the fiercely steadfast Esperanza. Then there are other characters like Dawn, who don't necessarily take a stand for or against the possibilities. The film deserves credit for bringing up a topic that possesses potential to uncover too-often dismissed ideas and spark discussion.
But rather than taking flight, these well-intentioned ideas never leave the ground. Instead, we're presented with an onslaught of cloying cheesiness, from a spew of allegorical personification through characters like the zealous Esperanza or annoyingly persistent Patience, to an overabundance of clichéd lines and a soundtrack that's too serious for the film's acting. In all, it comes off as overdone and dragged out, too long to sit through despite being only 100 minutes. Although this film may fare well for religious group discussion, it's safe to say that Henry Poole is Here is easily dismissible.
Reviewed by Katrina Romero
||(Updated: 09/05/08 KR)