Movie Review: 'Henry Poole is Here'
Message delivered in a thin envelope
Then little miracles start sprouting like flowers. A neighbor sees the face of Jesus in a water stain on the stucco exterior of Henry's house (the film is set and shot in the Los Angeles area), and soon a shrine to this supposed apparition becomes the talk of the 'burb. Henry's next-door neighbor (Radha Mitchell) is a beaming divorced woman with a troubled but very sweet young daughter (Morgan Lily), who has a habit of tape-recording conversations surreptitiously. She and Henry become confidantes. Just when Henry has decided to check out, life and the good people he meets in his new surroundings pull him back in.
Neither medical expertise nor the innate spiritual skepticism of a man like Henry can compete with the ineffable. "Henry Poole Is Here" is about faith. Each vignette prods a reluctant Henry into deeper reflection and appreciation. Director Mark Pellington keeps everybody on the same sincere, low-key page. (In a supporting role, George Lopez plays a kindly local priest, a friend of Henry's neighbor Esperanza, played by Adriana Barraza.)
Unfortunately it's all a bit dull. The combination of placid technique and Wilson's amiable, offhanded approach to a sketchily drawn character leads to a dissolution of dramatic interest around the midpoint. I do like the message—and this, unapologetically, is a capital-M Message movie—but screenwriter Albert Torres is so intent on pushing his faith-based initiative, and so connect-the-dotsy about nudging Henry into the loving arms of the mother/daughter next door, he forgets to let the story and the characters take meaningful dramatic initiative of their own.
See the trailer and find local showtimes for "Henry Poole is Here."