Review of Henry Fool

Henry Fool (1997)
90s in action
17 April 2000
The central theme of what is possibly the best film made in America in the '90s ABOUT America in the '90s -- that the transition from the mainstream to the original is plagued and diverted by cultural roadblocks that auto-translate the original into the mainstream, in effect creating a society that caricutarizes itself at every step -- is ironically and tragically played out in the viewer comments to this film. It is apparently impossible for an American audience to distinguish the mentality or temperament of a character or an event from that of a film itself as a structural entity. It is furthermore difficult for this population to distinguish the "intellectual" from the "pretentious". The brilliantly created web of major, minor and medium characters -- from the fad-driven publisher who is loathe to "digitalize" books to a mother and sister who laugh hysterically at the idea of Simon becoming a poet -- fit perfectly and organically into a society where the internet can instantly make something that personifies "fringe" (this doesn't mean that is good -- we are never given a glimpse of the poem)into readily accessible and, eventually, mainstream. I'm not sure, and I'm not sure I'm supposed to be positive whether this is good or bad. It is a slippery slope either way, and the ambiguity of whether Henry is running to or from the plane to get the Nobel Prize at the end made me want this almost two hour movie to last at least another couple. I am consoled by the fact that this is only my first Hal Hartley.
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