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Henry Poole Is Here




Luke Wilson stars as Henry, a "sad and angry" guy who has moved back to his childhood neighborhood for mysterious reasons. He avoids contact with others, then it's discovered that a water stain in Henry's back looks like the face of Christ. Henry, who doesn't believe in the water-stain Jesus, yells at everyone to get the hell out. Then others touch the water stain, and things happen.

Not to give too much away, but the water stain and its implications for his mysterious condition begin to wear on Henry's mind.

Casting- and production-wise, "Henry Poole Is Here" is solid. Wilson turns in an affecting performance, making full use of his prodigious face-squinching abilities to convey Henry's emotional commotion, and the supporting cast charms and entertains.

But the way the underlying themes of hope, faith, and everyday miracles collide with each other is actually a bit insulting. At one point, someone says, "I chose to believe" in the water stain, and lo and behold, something miraculous happened. This is the main quandary for Henry: What should he choose to believe? And will it make a difference?

One could make the argument that this faith-fueled version of being "saved" is a metaphor for the afterlife, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. If anything, director Mark Pellington and first-time writer Albert Torres try to separate the movie's issues from actual religious dogma, and the afterlife is never mentioned at all. The ending avoids a worse-case scenario, but still leaves a pretty bad taste.

"?Mike Robertson


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