7.3/10
6,531
83 user 44 critic

Henry Fool (1997)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 19 June 1998 (USA)
Socially inept garbage man Simon is befriended by Henry Fool, a witty roguish, but talentless novelist. Henry opens a magical world of literature to Simon who turns his hand to writing the ... See full summary »

Director:

Hal Hartley

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Jay Ryan ... Henry Fool
James Urbaniak ... Simon Grim
Parker Posey ... Fay Grim
Maria Porter Maria Porter ... Mary
James Saito ... Mr. Deng
Kevin Corrigan ... Warren
Liam Aiken ... Ned
Miho Nikaido ... Gnoc Deng
Gene Ruffini Gene Ruffini ... Officer Buñuel
Nicholas Hope ... Father Hawkes
Diana Ruppe ... Amy
Veanne Cox ... Laura
Jan Leslie Harding Jan Leslie Harding ... Vicky
Chaylee Worrall Chaylee Worrall ... Pearl (age 7)
Christy Carlson Romano ... Pearl - Age 14 (as Christy Romano)
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Storyline

Socially inept garbage man Simon is befriended by Henry Fool, a witty roguish, but talentless novelist. Henry opens a magical world of literature to Simon who turns his hand to writing the 'great American poem'. As Simon begins his controversial ascent to the dizzying heights of Nobel Prize winning poet, Henry sinks to a life of drinking in low-life bars. The two friends fall out and lose touch until Henry's criminal past catches up with him and he needs Simon's help to flee the country. Written by Josh Mueller <jomuelle@mailbox.syr.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 June 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

As Confissões de Henry Fool See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,939, 21 June 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,338,335
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Henry Fool: I can't work for a living, Simon, it's impossible. I've tried once. My genius will be wasted trying to make ends meet. This is how great men topple, Simon.
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Crazy Credits

Grip Dog - Edie See more »

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User Reviews

We See The Poem
8 December 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Hartley is a major talent, a unique, competent voice in a bramble of sameness. The last project I saw was "No Such Thing," which is one of those that if you don't actively avoid it, it hits you deep in your soul and changes you.

Like most Hartley projects, it was more abstract and pure than usual. All theatrical projects are abstract, in fact they need to be abstract to seem real. But these projects, and especially "Thing" were abstract in unusual ways that were carefully sculpted as artistic statements with power.

It is a sophisticated method for what I call "folding," where the nature of the presentation is explicit in the presentation, and carries much of the message, the art.

But this is different. It is celebrated because it is more "normal," and it has performances that seem close to what we normally see. In this, he's found a sort of sweet spot between the highly formal approach of his other projects and the acceptably strange stuff we get from, say Wes Anderson, or in "Napolian Dynamite" or "Igby Goes Down."

It still has lots of talk, and talk about talk and writing and media, Hartley topics.

But all in all, I was disappointed. I wouldn't have been so if it were not a Hartley project. But I know he can cut deeply with his deviations. This seems too safe.

The odd thing is that the device in the story is a poem that is so weird and powerful it changes lives, falls magically on lives. It is rejected by the folks looking for normal stuff but carries the poet to fame just based on its effectiveness. This is Hartley's usual tack, but this film is too conventional to cut deeply.

Yes, it has superb performances. Even a one minute scene with a girl in a library (Rachel Miner) who gets an anonymous, personal poem, is so deftly done, that one scene inspires a whole imagined future.

But because there is better, more unique poetry from this man, I'll direct you elsewhere in his work.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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