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Henry Fool (1997)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 19 June 1998 (USA)
An introverted garbageman writes his thoughts in a notebook after Henry Fool, writer and ex-con, rents the basement and gives him a notebook and the idea. He writes poetry and Henry helps him along.


Hal Hartley
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




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)


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


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Henry Fool: She was an ugly and mean-spirited kid, but she knew how to play upon my weaknesses, which, I admit, are deep and many.
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Crazy Credits

Grip Dog - Edie See more »

User Reviews

I'll bet you a dollar you haven't seen a movie like Henry Fool.
27 March 2004 | by Ben_CheshireSee all my reviews

Its not that its groundbreaking in the way it tells its story, or that its story is that unusual - its tricky to put your finger on which element makes Henry Fool so unique, but as a whole the work is very unique indeed. If i had to give you a reason why this felt so new to me, was that i'd never seen a movie entirely devoted to literature before, the power of poetry in particular. I found it quite refreshing.

Hartley has gone for an atmosphere of strangeness, a kind of artificiality which still rings true, and it works completely. Henry Fool (the character whose nature this movie is an investigation into, which takes the narrative form of his walking into the lives of a low-class suburban family, especially disaffected garbage-man and potential poet Simon) talks and behaves like what he imagines himself, which is the roguish hero of some tragic, romantic Shakespeare play, and a kind of difficult genius. But is he a genius for real? Is this "confession" he's writing, his life's work, a masterwork, or a piece of sh*t? Henry affects the lives of a small group of great characters in Simon's local neighbourhood, all drawn with marvellously light brushstrokes, and all seeming like imagined, literary beings, yet still very human. But is he a good influence or a bad influence on this neighbourhood?

I can't predict whether you'll like Henry Fool or not - all i can tell you is that i found it captivating and original to the last.

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Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics





Release Date:

19 June 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Henry Fool See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,939, 21 June 1998

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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