'HENRY POOLE' DROWNING IN SAP.
Glumness specialist Luke Wilson plays the title sad sack in "Henry Poole Is Here." Henry pays inflated asking price for a dumpy tract house in La Mirada, furnishes it with cases of booze, and when his real-estate agent tells him they went ahead and re-stuccoed the place, he says that she shouldn't have bothered, he won't be staying that long anyway.
That makes it pretty easy to guess why Henry is so depressed, but first- time screenwriter Albert Torres tries to keep the motivation mysterious as the story pokes along from grumpy comedy to inspirational life-affirmation. Seems the bad plaster job left a water stain that nosey neighbor Esperanza ("Babel's" Adriana Barraza) believes is an apparition of Christ. The more people come to witness the miracle, the more aggravated Henry gets. He just wants to be left alone, you see -- except, maybe, by the comely single mother (Radha Mitchell) of the weird, silent little girl next door (Morgan Lily).
While not flat-out religious, this is the kind of tinkly, pro-faith heartwarmer that the easily moved mistake for art and the rest of us just call sappy. It's like one of those "Angels Rejoice" country redemption tunes, only done in a mopey emo spirit. But I can't come down on it too hard because, at least initially, the movie is droll in a lazy kind of way. Also, the actors do the best they can with roles that morph increasingly into speechmaking.
And it's got a back story that'll break your heart: director Mark Pellington's ("Arlington Road," TV's "Cold Case") wife died unexpectedly four years ago, and he clearly drew solace from "Henry Poole's" themes and hopeful message.
The movie is never less than heartfelt.
Bob Strauss (818) 713-3670 email@example.com
HENRY POOLE IS HERE - Two and one half stars
>Starring: Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza, Rhada Mitchell.
>Director: Mark Pellington.
>Running time: 1 hr. 40 min.
>Playing: ArcLight, Hollywood; AMC 7, Santa Monica; Landmark, West L.A.
>In a nutshell: Occasionally droll but mostly sappy story about a depressed recluse (Luke Wilson) who's brought out of his shell by an image of Jesus.
Radha Mitchell is the single mother who lives next door to sad-sack Henry's (Luke Wilson) La Mirada tract house, where some fairly unusual occurrences are taking place in the stucco, in "Henry Poole Is Here."
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Aug 15, 2008|
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