PG for thematic elements and some language
Comedy, Drama, Politics/Religion
Aug. 15, 2008
Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza, Radha Mitchell, Cheryl Hines, George Lopez
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'Henry Poole' is a Film with Heart
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Senior Producer
- Henry Poole has given up on life. He simply wants to live out his remaining days alone. So begins the heartwarming tale of Henry Poole is Here starring Luke Wilson.
Wilson’s melancholic demeanor and understated charm make him a good fit for the role of Henry. After receiving a disheartening diagnosis from his doctor, Henry moves to his childhood neighborhood to live out the rest of his life. When he finds that the home he grew up in is not for sale as he had hoped, he purchases a run-down house in the same neighborhood.
Henry is content to despondently wait for the end of his life in his self-imposed seclusion while attempting to drown his sorrows with a daily regimen of alcohol, pizza, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But he quickly finds his new solitude to be short-lived.
Henry has no desire to interact with his neighbors -- an exuberant catholic woman, Esperanza, (Adriana Barraza) on one side, and single mom Dawn (Radha Mitchell) and her daughter Millie (Morgan Lily) on the other -- but they immediately show quite an interest in him. Esperanza pays him a friendly visit as soon as he moves in, and the mysterious young Millie continually shows up in his back yard recording all of his conversations with a tape recorder.
The neighbors become even more interested in him when Esperanza spots what she believes to be the face of Christ in a water stain on the side of Henry’s house. Against his wishes, she invites her priest (George Lopez) and a host of church officials to investigate the face as a genuine miracle.
As word spreads about the face of Christ appearing on his home, lines of visitors soon show up seeking miracles of their own.
Things really begin to get complicated for Henry when people start to be healed by touching the face on his wall. Young Mille who hasn’t spoken a word since her father left her begins to speak after touching the wall, and a grocery store clerk finds she no longer needs her Coke-bottle glasses after her vision is restored to nearly perfect.
As Henry deals with the constant interruptions of the well-meaning church folks, he finds solace in his budding friendship with Millie’s mother Dawn, but even that is hindered by his grief and the knowledge that he “won’t be around for long.”
Though somewhat predictable in its plot, the film succeeds in taking viewers on a touching journey. The pace of the movie is fairly slow, so parents may want to enjoy this one on their own. Younger viewers will probably find Henry Poole to be a bit boring.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this film is how positively faith is treated by the filmmakers. Though there are some instances of bad language and some of the characters say the Lord’s name in vain, the film does a fair job of espousing the positive aspects of having faith in something bigger than ourselves.
While Henry repeatedly attacks others for believing in something that he considers to be impossible and childish, the film avoids painting believers as the stereotypical narrow-minded religious nuts that Christians are often portrayed to be. Instead, the believers in the film come across as loving and genuinely concerned for others. Even as Henry berates Esperanza and constantly dismisses her faith as dim-witted, she responds with love and kindness, something that eventually makes an impression on him.
Perhaps the reason such a faith-filled film has found its way into the mainstream is because its overall message is one that most people can agree with regardless of their religious beliefs: Life is a gift and we should strive to live each day to the fullest. Henry Poole is a nice reminder of this truth.
Of course as Christians, we know true life and a sense of purpose can only come from a relationship with Christ. Perhaps this film will encourage moviegoers to examine their own lives and ask what the meaning behind it all could be. It would certainly make for a good discussion with your friends at dinner afterwards.
Henry Poole is Here is rated PG for thematic elements and some language.
Watch the trailer for this film at the movie's Web site.
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More articles by Belinda Elliott on CBN.com
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