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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: Can you sit there, look me straight in the eye and tell me that you don't think this poem is great? That it is not at once a poem of great lyrical beauty and ethical depth; that it is not a genuine, highly profound meditation on the miracle of existence?
Simon: I...
Henry Fool: *Can* you?
Simon: No. I can't.
Henry Fool: So you see you have no choice.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Grip Dog - Edie See more »

Connections

Referenced in In Bad Taste (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Hartley's Masterpiece: An epic, dark comedy with heart and soul and bruises.
22 January 2004 | by gpadilloSee all my reviews

If Hal Hartley were never to make another film, he could easily go down as having created a genuine American Masterpiece with "Henry Fool." Hartley takes this material and stamps it with heart and soul and distance. It's like staring at a palette of beautiful colors - then stepping back to realize it's a bruise. Henry is never less than this astonishing.

As Henry,Thomas Jay Ryan gives what is easily the best film debut I've seen in many years. None of the wimpy whispery-voiced drivel that passes for acting these days (from even some of our best screen actors) his performance practically pops off of the screen like a fart at a funeral. The rest of the cast - James Urbaniak, Parker Posey, Maria Porter, Kevin Corrigan, et al. - are on the same inspired level, but it's obvious why the film is named after Henry. I cannot wait to see this man in more.

Obviously allegorical, "Henry Fool" fairly teems with its laundry list of symbolism both quaint and profound, easy and impossible. I found my cheeks hurting from the smile stretching across my face for much of the film. Other moments had my eyes welling with tears at the beauty – and pain – these oh, so deceptively simple lives toil through.

This is not, obviously, a film for all audiences, there is something of the fairy tale here and while suspension of disbelief is required, it is also its own reward. Actually the characters, though larger than life, are so evenly and wondrously drawn as to become recognizable to all of us as ourselves or others in our own lives. Here we weigh out the seemingly unfair advantages we perceive "others" has having, the pronouncements of self-worth and desire for acceptance and understanding.

Hartley's dialogue is equal to the visual aspects of his film: almost stagey (in the good sense), but with a direct honesty that many, unfortunately, will find offputting. His cast delivers these perfectly placed pronouncements with all the gravitas demanded of the situation - and sound natural doing so. It's a beautiful film to listen to.

Aside from the brilliant storytelling, "Henry" is also beautiful to look at. Hartley's cameramen lens a Queenscape most unusual – one never quite feels he knows where it's taking place, despite obvious "Queens" clues. Every frame – from Henry's powerfully bizarre arrival to the last triumphant (and gloriously ambiguous) cell is a pleasure, a joy to watch.

At its conclusion all I could say was "this was the best movie I've ever seen." Upon reflection, I realize it probably isn't, but at that moment (and each ensuing viewing) I recapture that same, precise feeling. That's what I want in a movie and Henry delivered.


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