We've moved!

Check out our new site at
and be sure to update your bookmarks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Henry Poole Is Here" Movie Review

Leading man Luke Wilson’s good looks are so Hollywood-friendly, his face so amicably open, that he’s made a career as the aw-shucks straight man in films like Legally Blonde, Charlie’s Angels, and Old School. But Wilson chucks his usual shtick in Henry Poole Is Here, creating a character that saves a sweet movie from delving into the saccharine.
Wilson’s Henry is a sallow, puffy, wrinkled bedsheet of a man who moves back to his childhood suburb in the wake of some terrible news. He fills his fridge with hard liquor and junk food and tries to disconnect from life—a task made difficult by a water stain that appears in the stucco on the rear wall of his home. His very Catholic new neighbor, Esperanza, becomes obsessed with the stain, which begins to look like the face of Christ. Soon, the standoffish Henry has people on his property day and night, beseeching the apparition for healing and guidance.
Henry’s insistence that the stain is just a stain doesn’t do much to deter the faithful. And when the spot seems to help the young daughter of his single, attractive next-door neighbor, Henry begins to doubt his own doubt. Call it a crisis of lack-of-faith; he can’t wholeheartedly believe what everyone else does, but he can’t help but hope that maybe he’s wrong.
Director Mark Pellington’s movie has a blessedly light touch with regard to Catholic phenomena, which helps keep its religious characters—including a perfectly understated George Lopez as Father Salazar—from turning into caricatures. Instead, the faith discussed in Henry Poole Is Here is more about allowing oneself to hope for the best in life, in others, and in what lies ahead without needing an explanation for the way things shake out.
Without Wilson’s steadfast footing in Henry’s gruff shoes, Henry Poole Is Here could’ve easily ended up as the Lifetime channel movie of the week. But his character’s grappling with the desire to believe makes him easy to relate to, a modern man unable to cede one inch of skepticism even if it means true happiness. Eventually, Henry gets what’s coming to him in an ending worth both seeing and believing.