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Henry Poole Is Here Starring Luke Wilson and Adriana Barraza

Sundance Review: Henry Poole Is Here

Note: I posted this review soon after I saw this movie at Sundance, and today it's out in theaters, so I thought I'd share my thoughts again. It has some flaws, but overall I really like this movie.

Henry Poole Is Here was one of the first non-documentary feature films to be snatched up by a studio at this year's Sundance, and I can easily see why. It's a sweet, feel-good movie featuring great performances and a quirky look at the old discussion of faith vs. reason. It's not for everyone, veering as it does into some schmaltzy territory, but the subject matter lends itself to some cheesiness and I can't quite see how that could have been avoided. The hipster soundtrack helps to make things more edgy, as does the artful direction by Mark Pellington.

Luke Wilson plays Henry Poole, a grouchy man who buys an ordinary house in Southern California. Before long, his very friendly neighbor Esperanza (Adriana Barazza) notices a stain on the outside of Henry's house that she thinks is the face of Jesus. She calls in a priest (George Lopez) and starts telling everyone in town about "the miracle" at Henry's house, much to Henry's annoyance. Henry tries his best to get rid of the stain, wanting nothing more than to be left alone in his dreary house. But the more he angrily resists the "miracle" on his house, the more proof presents itself that the stain truly does have some kind of power. For more of my thoughts about Henry Poole,


I can name two major reasons to see this movie: Adriana Barraza and Morgan Lily. Barraza, who received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Babel, is a compelling person to watch in general, and in this film she lends a truthful humanity to what might have been the silliest character in the story. Morgan Lily is a rising star; her big, sweet eyes and ease on camera indicate excellent things for her future. She will give those Fanning kids a run for their money. This photo in particular just slays me.

For his part, Wilson is surprisingly good in the title role. Henry Poole is difficult to like, yet Wilson elicits our sympathy. When we find out the painful reasons behind Poole's curmudgeonly demeanor, Wilson still manages to keep things grounded; we are compassionate toward Poole but we aren't allowed to pity him.

The music chosen for the film is its own character, though sometimes it almost plays too big a part. Still, it's like the filmmakers took a spin through my music collection and made some great choices: The Eels, Cake, Badly Drawn Boy, and many more. In truth, I probably wouldn't have liked the movie quite so much if it weren't for the carefully selected tunes.

Bottom line: Henry Poole Is Here is beautifully directed, features great performances and uses music in a lovely way. At times it's overly cheesy but if you're generally a fan of indie film, this is a must-see.


Join The Conversation
Megatron Megatron 8 years
Sounds awesome!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i've seen commercials for this movie and it may not be my #1 choice to go see but i think that i'm interested in the concept and plot of it. i like luke, and it's a different role than we've seen him in recently. i'm sure that it'll have a decent showing
chasingjamie chasingjamie 8 years
Thanks for the review Buzz. My boyfriend was just telling me about this movie and I hadn't heard of it. :)
Nitachequita Nitachequita 8 years
The schmaltzy and cheesy was too much for me, although I agree with you on Luke and Morgan giving great performances. Can't say I can recommend it to my friends though; maybe as a rental.
ElizabethRae ElizabethRae 8 years
I really want to see this! Thanks for reposting your review.
thom227 thom227 9 years
Have your say in the new Luke Wilson movie Henry Poole Is Here, and pick the tune you feel is the best theme song for the film! After voting for your favorite song, one lucky winner will have a music video made for their song, directed by Mark Pellington, the director of Henry Poole and numerous music videos! Henry Poole Is Here lands in theaters on August 15th! Get your vote on here:
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
i want to watch this bcause of your review, good job!
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