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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Henry Poole is Here

August 22nd, 2008

Rated PG for thematic elements and some language

Mark Pellington (dir.)

Luke Wilson as Henry Poole

Radha Mitchell as Dawn

Adriana Barraza as Esperanza

George Lopez as Father Salazars

Cheryl Hines as Meg

Richard Benjamin as Dr. Fancher

Morgan Lily as Millie Stupek

Rachel Seiferth as Patience

Beth Grant as Josie

Our reviews below:


Henry Poole is Here Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

I could start off by saying how good the acting is, or that the writing is great and the direction is perfect, but I could also just simply say that I truly loved this movie. It starts off with lonely and depressed Henry Poole being shown around his new house by a real estate agent, who says that she can sell him the house, but before he moves in they’re just going to re-stucco the outside wall. He says “No, don’t bother, I’m not going to be staying very long”, but she doesn’t listen and gets it done anyway. And if she had listened to him, the face of Jesus would probably have never appeared on the side of his house. It is the kind of movie where everything happens for a reason, even when his kitchen sink backs up.

The face is first seen by his next-door neighbour Esperanza Martinez (Adriana Barraza), who’s boyfriend used to live in that very house. She declares it a miracle, and even brings in Father Salazar (George Lopez) to check it out. He says that a face is very clear, but they cannot necessarily assume that it is the face of Christ. But, when miracles start happening to those around him, Henry is still in doubt, and maybe he is the one in most need of a miracle. If none of this sounds that interesting to you, than this movie is probably not for you. I have read reviews from people who did not like it, and I can see why, but back on topic, I absolutely loved this movie.

One of the best things about it is the soundtrack, every song fits its scene perfectly (Thanks in part to director Mark Pellington, who has directed music videos for different bands, including U2) and not one song is out of place. There are two scenes part way through and one scene at the end that are absolutely beautifully done, and I had tears in my eyes. I could not help being moved by it. Like Northfork, Millions, Stranger Than Fiction, and August Rush, this is one of those special movies that only come once in a while, and sadly are not for everyone. One of the best movies of the year.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Henry Poole is Here opens with the title character, (Luke Wilson), buying a house in an older neighborhood. When he moves in, his new next door neighbor, Esperanza, (Adriana Barraza), comes to his door to welcome him to the area. Henry Poole just wants to be left alone. Later on, he sees Esperanza in his yard looking at the side of the house. He asks her what she was doing there. She shows him that she sees the image of Christ’s face on the side of his house. All he sees is a bad stucco job. She wants him to believe. He doesn't want to be disturbed from staying at home, depressed and drinking. There is a little girl, Millie, (Morgan Lily), who lives next door on the other side of Henry’s house. She doesn't speak, but carries a tape recorder around with her. In this small suburban community everyone knows everyone else, and Henry just can’t be left alone. Be it Millie’s mother Dawn, (Radha Mitchell), or Patience, (Rachel Seiferth), the cashier at the local supermarket, they won’t go away. No matter how much he fights everyone and their beliefs around him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The use of music in the film was especially interesting. I suppose that we can expect this from the director Mark Pellington. There are a few scenes that were done in a music video type style, which added to the unique feel of this film. Some people might find it moves at a bit of a slow pace at times, although I found it to be a nice change from the mainstream. And that is what this film is not - mainstream. It is more special then that. This is an art film, a festival film, and a truly moving story of a man who just needs to let go and believe.

Henry Poole is Here opens in Canada this week.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

It is a rare treat to see such a lovely movie about faith, such as Henry Poole is Here. Henry Poole is a lonely, depressed man who moves into a new California home, preferring to be left alone. This all changes when his nosy next door neighbour, Esperanza, knocks on his door and excitedly tells him that the image of Jesus has appeared on his stucco outside. Henry Poole scoffs at her and asks her to leave. However, miracles start to happen, and despite Poole’s refusal to believe, his own life starts to improve, along with the lives of a single mother, and her electively mute daughter. Little by little, the image of Jesus brings the whole community to Poole when he refuses to reach out to them. This is a wonderful Christian movie, with no sex or violence, and only minimal swearing in context of the movie. While too slow moving for kids under 10, this is still a good movie to bring the family to. You will laugh at times, and cry at others. Henry Poole is Here is one movie you do not want to miss.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

‘Henry poole is Here’ is worth seeing. I was skeptical at first, expecting that a movie about the face of Jesus appearing on a stucco wall would be either preachy, overly sentimental or anti-religious. Instead I got a warm, often funny, touching movie about faith, hope, and the human spirit.

The people in the movie are completely believable. Luke Wilson’s Henry Poole is appropriately miserable yet likable. Henry’s neighbor Esperanza, and Patience, the cashier at the local store, are both charming and funny and worth the price of admission. I smiled and laughed and rooted for these characters throughout the entire movie. It was my caring for these characters that kept me watching during the often slow pace of the film. Overall, I enjoyed the dialogue and the music, but would have preferred fewer tight close-ups of the actor’s faces. I definitely could have done without the close-ups of Henry Poole’s blood tests during his flashback hospital scene. I wasn’t the only one audibly cringing and looking away during those scenes.

The real beauty of this film was to watch how the faith and hope of each individual strengthened the other over time, and how their connections to one another proved to be the real miracle. For anyone who believes in the miracle of love and caring this is a must see movie. I’m a believer.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Henry Poole’s attempt to be left alone in his new home, to lie around subsisting on a diet of pizza and donuts washed down by various wines and spirits, is constantly interrupted by neighbours. A selectively mute little girl with a tape recorder lives with her single mother on one side, and the pushy but disarmingly pious Esperanza on the other. After Esperanza perceives a likeness of the Lord on Henry’s stucco wall, the inevitable crowds of pilgrims and apparent healings fail to convince Henry of any possibility of a miracle, even though, as is gradually revealed, he may need one most of all. The conclusion is just ambiguous enough for believers to feel affirmed and skeptics not to feel ripped off by fantasy. Good acting all around sustains Mark Pellington’s extreme closeups and brooding pace, which may be too art house slow for some.


Consensus: An answer to prayers for those who have been hoping for a movie that’s not afraid to have faith and God as a central theme. A wonderful indie gem. ***1/2 (out of 4)

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