Henry Poole Is Here (2008, USA)

In the first half an hour of “Henry Poole Is Here” I thought it is another movie about the weirdness that bubbles under the surface of neat, boring looking suburbia. But then it quickly evolves into a sentimental picture about comparative faith. The various attitudes towards deity and miracle includes, the warm-hearted, woman on the street who is devout and sees Jesus on the wall; her priest who is respectful of the unbeliever and tactical about miracles; the little girl who lost her speech when her father left, but regained it with the help of believing; her modern mother who is getting slowly convinced and then the bitter Henry Poole, who is the skeptic to the end. These characters keep exploring their faiths and interact with the others until there is barely anything else in the movie, just redemptive value.

When I watched this movie I happened to be in a mood open to positive reinforcement of both human gullibility and divine intervention. Thus the movie resonated with me on both levels. I accepted the key concept that belief itself has power, no matter whether miracles are real or not. The movie said they were, but I was less ready to go with the flock in that regard.

The soundtrack contained catchy, but not too poppy melodies with lyrics directly relating to the topic of the movie. They all sounded inspirational and uplifting. I guess that the majority were Christian artists, although I never heard any of them. These are the bands and people listed on the soundtrack record: Ron Irizarry, Eels, The Bravery, Badly Drawn Boy, Joshua Radin, Golden State, Helen Stellar, Alt-Ctrl-Sleep, Brandon Heath, John Linton, Jack The Bear, Michael Dickes, Zach Broocke, Alon.

I will probably rewatch the movie with my wife and maybe with friends. It is a nice little spiritual movie that is rather enjoyable. It is a bit syrupy, but not to the extent that would gag you. Luke Wilson‘s acting as the man who barely wants anything else than for the slow end to finally come was credible, while his returning joie de vivre was slightly less. I also liked the cinematography. There were no fast camera movements, no physical excitement. The abundance of sunshine, almost the whole movie was shot outside Henry’s house was a nice contrast to Henry’s inner darkness. Everything was downplayed, the people and objects slowly swam through the scenes. In short I enjoyed the story, the music, the people, the shots and the rhythm, but didn’t always care for the underlying proselytizing message.

DVD @ Amazon.com.

IMDB’s summary: Henry Poole moves in to a house in his old neighborhood, to spend what he believes are his remaining days alone. The discovery of a “miracle” by a nosy neighbor ruptures his solitude and restores his faith in life.


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