1997   USA Henry Fool
Henry Fool Image Cover
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Director:Hal Hartley
Studio:Sony Pictures
Writer:Hal Hartley
IMDb Rating:7.2 (4,256 votes)
Awards:1 win & 1 nomination
Duration:138 min
Hal Hartley  ...  (Director)
Hal Hartley  ...  (Writer)
Thomas Jay Ryan  ...  Henry Fool
James Urbaniak  ...  Simon Grim
Parker Posey  ...  Fay Grim
Maria Porter  ...  Mary
James Saito  ...  Mr. Deng
Kevin Corrigan  ...  Warren
Liam Aiken  ...  Ned
Miho Nikaido  ...  Gnoc Deng
Gene Ruffini  ...  Officer Buñuel
Nicholas Hope  ...  Father Hawkes
Diana Ruppe  ...  Amy
Veanne Cox  ...  Laura
Jan Leslie Harding  ...  Vicky
Chaylee Worrall  ...  Pearl (age 7)
Christy Carlson Romano  ...  Pearl - Age 14 (as Christy Romano)
Michael Spiller  ...  Cinematographer
Christy Romano  ...  Pearl - Age 14
Hal Hartley  ...  Composer
Steve Hamilton  ...  Editor
Summary: Simon (James Urbaniak), a shy garbage man, lives with his sister (Parker Posey of Party Girl and Waiting for Guffman, among dozens of other movies) and mother, who both treat him with minimal respect. Into Simon's life comes Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), a heavy-drinking self-proclaimed great writer who goads Simon into writing an enormous poem. The poem becomes the source of great controversy, proclaimed by some as a great work of art, denounced by others as perverse trash. As Simon's star rises, he tries to draw attention to Henry's work as well, to little avail. Though the premise seems simple, Henry Fool takes on something of an epic sweep as it follows the effects of fame on Simon's and Henry's lives. This rumination on art and inspiration was hailed by some critics as the best film yet by writer-director Hal Hartley (Trust, Simple Men, Amateur), while others felt it brought out his worst self-indulgences. All of Hartley's movies defy easy interpretation, and Henry Fool is no exception. Still, it's a rare film that even tries to tackle such subjects, let alone does so with a combination of intelligence and humor (ranging from verbal quirkiness to scatological embarrassment). Hartley's films, surprisingly enough, feel warmer and more accessible on video; perhaps watching them in one's home makes them seem more intimate and less abstract. --Bret Fetzer

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