Henry Poole Is Here (2008) Poster

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Faith in Sundance?
wmjaho21 January 2008
Saw this tonight at Sundance and was torn between two notions: Notion 1: This is a classic Sundance movie. Starring Luke Wilson (now tell me that doesn't just ooze Sundanceness! Dialogue driven. No special effects. Low budget.

Notion 2: This is a real departure for Sundance. Gee, it seems to be religious, albeit in a weird sort of way. There are all these undertones of faith and hope and the priest doesn't come across as an idiot. When was the last time you saw that at Sundance? And I guess I agree with both. Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is depressed, and for good reason. So he buys a house to get away. But a perceived image of Christ in a stain on the side of his house soon attracts the attention of a neighbor, who quickly invades his life. And then there's his other neighbor, a cute little girl with an even cuter (and divorced) mom (Rhada Mitchell) and he can't seem to get any peace, although that's probably good for him.

This is a very deliberately-paced drama with an occasional laugh and more than a little tension. Wilson seems to enjoy his role, and the quiet, loner type fits well within his standard range. Mitchell (Melinda and Melinda, Mozart and the Whale) is wonderful and lovely, as always, and George Lopez takes a little role as a Catholic priest. But veteran Mexican actress Adriana Barraza steals the show as the deeply religious and well-intentioned neighbor, Esperanza (meaning "hope" in Spanish, which is only slightly more subtle than the grocery checkout girl whose name is Patience, or the Rhada Mitchell character named Dawn).

If you don't mind slow movies, Henry Poole will reward you with a story that celebrates simple virtues, and suggests that there is plenty of room in this world for kindness and charity and faith and hope. Not bad for Sundance.

Sundance Moment: This looks like the first thing screenwriter Albert Torres has done in movies, and he seemed thrilled to be at Sundance. And while Luke Wilson was very quiet, George Lopez was a clown. Lopez said he and Wilson became friends on the shoot and recently joined with Samuel L. Jackson to win a pro-am golf tournament.
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A quiet charm with thought.
fatbeerdrinker3 January 2009
My first reaction to this movie (which I had never heard of before viewing) was one of satisfaction; it wasn't a bad movie but neither an instant classic. I was pleasantly surprised. It was definitely better than average, the sort of movie you are glad you rented out on DVD on a quiet night in. Despite it's over all sad demeanour.

However, what I did not expect was the 'after thought' it left me with. Dealing with life, death and everything between, I started to ponder the movie on a different level. Unlike many other movies it was not forgotten and has some imagery that remains long after the movie has finished.

To me this movie, while somewhat invisible when compared to others, is a little under-rated and deserves a wider audience than the one it is destine for.
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From an Atheist's PoV...
Roulette3618 August 2008
Though I do not believe in God, I did find this movie powerful and extremely enjoyable to watch. Yes.... This movie will have a strong impact on Christians and faith of God, but it also is a well written and happy story. Luke Wilson does a great job as the main character Henry Pool who suffers a terminal illness. His story gets even sadder when he finds a love interest and her daughter who makes him happier then he has ever been. In addition, his past seems to be filled with sadness. Even if you don't believe in God, you will wish for something to save Henry Pool. The characters are convincing and the story is heart-felt. I'm sorry if you disagree with me, but for those of you who are on the fence on this one, I don't think you will have any regrets spending 8 or so dollars.

This is my first review. Hope this helps/ed!
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It's a movie about faith
siderite20 September 2009
...and as such it doesn't do much for me. It uses the old and tried recipe of the trial of faith story, where the nasty atheist and hater of all thing living is brought to love life and thus save himself. If only real life would work like that.

I can just imagine some poor sap, dying of a terminal disease, watching this movie and laughing his behind off while crying at the same time. This kind of a film is what romantic movies are for real life love: a fairy tale, a beautiful lie that makes one (not terminally ill) feel better about oneself.

The acting was top notch, I liked all that character interpretations, the soundtrack was full of Dylan and U2 (can't have faith without good music, after all) and, even if somewhat boring, it was a decent film.

However, for me personally, it was annoying as hell. Having identified myself with the main character, I kept shouting at poor Luke Wilson: "Use some paint!", "call the police!", "break the damn wall!". If neighbours in the US are like that, no wonder some people become serial killers :)

Bottom line: if you have faith, watch this movie. Faith that it would do something for you, I mean.
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Insipirational Drift Away From Usual
Frank Edwards16 February 2009
At first, when my mom rented this, I was upset at the lack of appeal to me. But, being an aspiring director, I agreed to watch it.

I'm glad I did. This movie delivers something to keep the mind thinking in not a puzzling, but creative way. The story is very inspirational and the music goes well with the message being delivered.

I totally agree with the previous commenter on that this film is something to be seen especially if you are interested in becoming a film maker.

You don't need blood, violence, language, and screaming to make something people will remember.

This is my first review on IMDb as well and I want people to experience this great movie!
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Finally, an indie flick that isn't about drugs, sex, cursing, etc
CharlesMichaelWilliams16 February 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I rented it without much awareness of what it was about. Frankly, I had a free rental on my blockbuster account so i decided i was in the mood for a simple indie flick. So i rented it.

I am so happy to finally see a very well made indie film that isn't about drugs, sex, suicide, extreme amounts of cursing, and all the other elements that seem to make up a "good" indie film. I recently saw "The Wackness" and realized how fed up I am with people praising indie films that have no real substance. A lot of them, "the wackness" included, say nothing new and rely completely on the use of drugs, sex, and things like that to be "interesting." HPIH is very refreshing to see. Its a very well made indie flick with a great cast, story, and message. Yes, anytime there are films that deal with religion in a positive sense, people will say that it is contrived or over done, but I thought this film dealt with the subject matter very maturely and enjoyably. I am a Christian guy, but i don't like to watch films that are overly preachy or are just blatantly religious. So, I usually do not enjoy "religious" films. That is why I am so pleased to see a real indie film that just happens to deal with religious subject matter in a positive manner. The film isn't perfect and nor is any other film. But it is a good example of how a film can be moving, entertaining, and just a plain good movie without promoting or recklessly using drugs, sex, cursing, and other crap like that.

I commend the people involved with this project. I am very surprised that it was made outside of the religious film world. Thank you to the people who believed they could make a film like this, and I hope that more people follow.
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Beautiful, inspirational, moving ...
adelaer4 June 2009
Why is everybody reviewing this wonderful film saying they did not like it because they do not like how it depicts a supposed miracle from a supposed god? I myself am a profound atheist. Hell, i'm even an anti-Christian. I'm not even baptised and I never went to church once in my life. I'm just happy that way :) But does that make this a bad movie? No it doesn't. The actors are absolutely brilliant and feel real-life. The camera-work pulls you right in. The story is simple yet powerful. The music is well-chosen, touching and stands on it's own in little moments of self-reflection. It had been long since I was this moved by a movie. Just watch it ... without presumptions ... without thinking ... and maybe you too will be moved.
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Drowning in Treacle
tom-reid24 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm surprised by the largely positive reviews of this film. Maybe it's a cultural thing, I'm a European living in California. We went to see this movie on the back of some positive press reviews. It starts well, but I was misled by it's start. I thought this was going to be more of a skeptical movie about the way religious people fool themselves into believing what they want to believe (a little like the sentiments behind "Life of Brian"). But no, the start is deceptive, as the film progresses, it actually wants to start to make you believe that a stain on the wall of a (supposedly) terminally ill mans house is the face of god, sheds blood and has magical powers. Sorry, I couldn't suspend my disbelief and the whole film then fell apart for me.

The lead character is supposed to be terminally ill, but his disease is unnamed, which I suppose is a good thing as it's difficult to believe what it could be as his only symptoms seem to be stubble and a craving for vodka and pizza. There is of course a beautiful woman who just happens to live next door who just happens to have a cute troubled 6 year old daughter, who of course the lead character falls in love with.

The whole thing descends into nauseating, saccharine, formulaic cinema. Towards the end I was beginning to laugh out loud in the cinema at the predictable happy every after ending, it seemed almost like some kind of spoof or wind up it was so corny.

But I suppose, if other people liked this then maybe it's a cultural thing. The US is a much more religious country than mine. I suppose that explains how George Bush got in - right?
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I believe in "Henry Poole Is Here."
reelinspiration20 August 2008
On a marque crammed with tired summer offerings of over-the-top comedies and action films, I spotted the sweet, small film, "Henry Poole is Here." Like a name sprawled under an aqueduct bridge, it was barely noticeable.

"Henry Poole is Here" is a quiet little film with a big premise. What do you do when you're an atheist and you learn you have six weeks to live? If you're Henry Poole, (Luke Wilson), you buy a house in a neighborhood where nobody knows you, numb yourself with booze, and wait around to die - alone. Henry's plan to fade away unnoticed is disrupted when his neighbor, Esperanza, (Adrianna Barrazza) starts worshiping a water-stained image of Christ she sees on his stucco wall.

To make matters worse, Esperanza is moved to share this miracle with her church and friends. A silent little girl tape records Henry's pleas to be left alone. But Henry never gets his wish. The little girl and her luminescent mother (Radha Mitchell) enter his life to show him that we are all here for a reason. In fact, the whole neighborhood is there for him - whether he likes it or not.

The director, Mark Pellington, leaves it for us to decide whether we believe it's a miracle or not. At first, we don't even get to see what Esperanza is looking at. Later, we see the stain, but the face is kind of illusive - sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. The film doesn't tell you what to believe. But it shows the strength in believing and especially our belief in others.

Hopefully, this film doesn't fade away unnoticed amidst the jungle of summer releases. Hopefully, it finds a community that believes in it. This is a movie about hope, after all. I, for one, believe.

Movie blessings! Jana Segal reelinspiration dot blogspot dot com
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Pissin' in the Poole
DQGladstone27 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Luke Wilson is hard not to like. I've tried to dislike him but he slipped by me.

I wish this film had maintained a more consistent comic tone. I think if JD Salinger had been on the set, he would have said, "hey, can we throw some jokes here near the end?"

At the beginning of the film, I like when Luke chastises the ladies for their trespasses, then he singles out the old woman and they cut to her. It seems to break the damn "tone" of the film but I liked it anyway.

Not much later, he and the little girl are in the yard and he makes a joke WHICH SHE DOESN'T LAUGH AT, that "he has to go/he's busy" then he hops on the stationary bike. This is a sophisticated joke, very dry and subtle to deal to a little girl and it suggests that he's respecting her intelligence. She doesn't laugh and neither does he. Of course, she's "mute" but she also doesn't FAKE laugh, to indicate that she gets it. Neither does he. That's a nice moment. Also nice because he's depressed out of his skull but the girl brings intentional humor out of him.

It's hard for a kid to dislike an adult who doesn't insult their intelligence as it's hard not to like a kid who shuts up once in a while.

Then there's the bit about the clumsy blood-taker. Unnecessary but still appreciated, trying to keep it light.

This is an ambitious film that tries to say a lot with music, light, some video-style editing, sun and memory. All the indy music was a bit much but who am I to criticize indy music? Nobody, that's who.

Esperanza Martinez, who plays the irritating neighbor, is so good I sometimes wanted to kill her and wished Luke would, she was so damn irritating.

When Luke woke up in the hospital and found Esperanza, if he had just called for security, I'd have been more happy.

I just wish the film hadn't lost it's sense of humor somewhere along the line.
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Surprising Film. More than I expected.
driverscience28 January 2009
Definitely on my list of "must-see-once" films. Its a low-budget film, but makes up for it with acting, directing, story and in the musical score. Overall, its a beautiful composition and keeps one riveted, although lacking in frills. I disagree with some of the discussion that its an impossible situation, as I have seen a lot in life and to me its a composition of many different elements, even if rare or unnoticed. So much in life we never hear about. There are many outright miracles, even in our modern life and you will see them if you are fortunate enough. This film really shows the contrasting belief systems between those who simply can't believe in such things and those who perhaps, see miracles everywhere.
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not about god
pepekwa31 May 2009
I only give a rating of 9 when after i see a movie, when it leaves me wanting more and gets me thinking about it long after it has ended. This is one of those films. What makes it special is the deft, subtle direction of mark pellington and great acting by the main leads. Luke Wilson is brilliant as the supposedly terminally ill man going "home" to live his last days in solitude and peace. His personality is constant throughout the shenanigans with the"face on the wall", unlike other movies where you can easily reach the conclusion that "he wouldn't do that or that couldn't happen", everything in this movie makes perfect sense. Reading some of the other reviews on here, i thought I was on an aethiest's forum! I didn't see this movie in this terms, it works on many levels simply because it reinforces the notion of the human spirit and that love does indeed conquer all. There are so many clever things here that make this superior to other films in the genre like the fact that even half way through you're not entirely sure if Henry is dying and the fact that although you really want his relationship with the equally impressive radha mitchell to get physical, it never really does. I'm going to watch this movie again soon and I'll reckon I'll pick up some more nuances and like it even more.
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Perverse pop drivel
Scott Davis30 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You've had your spoiler warning, so leave now because I'm going to tell you the whole story in one sentence.

This is literally a story about a man who has to have a house fall on him to get a second opinion for a terminal disease diagnosis.

Turns out, he was never sick at all! The mysterious disease that at once was killing him and making him better looking throughout the movie turned out to be a complete sham. Much as this movie is a complete sham.

The rest of the plot is just junk piled on top of this false premise. Any rational conversation the movie was trying to have with the audience completely collapses when it is revealed that the whole movie is just a con job.

The music deserves special mention and scorn. Many of the 'big' emotional moments are simply montage shots with some faux-Celtic female folk singing playing while the main character looks out at a sunset or climbs underneath a bridge to retrieve childhood memories or maybe just stares at some stucco on the side of a house while the audience is left to its own.

This movie would have been an embarrassment for Hallmark on the Lifetime channel. I saw it for free on StarZ and want my money back!
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Forget where you came from...
revster-115 February 2009
To me the message was not about religion or faith or fatalism (those tones did exist for the supporting characters which provided the motivation for their actions). For the main character Henry, when faced with mortality he regresses to his childhood experience and family of origin seeking to sort out "where it all went wrong". He states when standing in his old house "this is where my happiness ended". So many times when crisis enters our lives we ask why is this happening to me and relate it to our history and upbringing - maybe blaming or finding reasons; just trying to make sense of it. The message in this movie for me is MOVE ON. Although we are who we become we can move past this. The past is not now, old sadness cannot taint our present happiness - or shouldn't. For Henry, "dying" as per his medical condition freed him from his past that haunted him. He was now free to live new, just like the previous owner of the house who "could not remember how to be sad after a life of sadness". The director did a splendid job of delivering the message in a subtle and poignant way.
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If you enjoy sappy Hallmark cards, Lifetime movies, and the Bible then this is the movie for you!
Penny Acton17 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Don't be fooled.

First off, I guess I should throw it out there that I walked into this movie expecting some type of humorous Biblical satire. My expectations were right about everything but the humorousness and satire. There was only one scene that I actually found funny and it frightened all the other 7 people in the theater and other than that I was just laughing at how seriously in love everyone was with Jesus.

The low down goes like this, Henry Poole has some type of mystically rare disease that they never mentioned and he's going to die. He moves into the neighborhood he used to live in and blah blah. His crazy God-loving Spanish neighbor sees Jesus on his freshly stuccoed wall. Somebody cries. "What's wrong with you?" Spanish chick brings people over. Somebody touches the wall, surprise! a miracle. People cry. Another miracle. More people come over. He goes for a walk, throws a picture of a wall. Dinner. "She won't even look at me". Henry breaks down his own house. "The blood was real". And the ending, oh dear Satan, the ending. I don't even wanna talk about it.

It was like a Lifetime movie and the Hallmark channel had a baby, and that baby was Jesus. When I watched Henry Poole Is Here a felt like something else was there, oh yea, indigestion.

Unless you're a Bible banger or have some secret love for Jesus, save your money and your time.
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A Nutshell Review: Henry Poole Is here
DICK STEEL16 May 2009
From time to time I had wondered how I would react if some doctor was to tell me I have X- number of days left to live. One plan I have is to quit the job, sell off everything, pack some essentials into a backpack, and hit the road to travel round the world, even though I know at some point I would probably succumb to whatever's sapping my life away, and at some unknown place, but man, imagine the adventure where risk is but a word in the dictionary.

Or I could opt for what Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) did, buying a house with whatever available cash, binge on vodka and pizza, and live life like a recluse with doors shut and heavy curtains drawn. He's been told that his lifespan is expiring soon, and tries unsuccessfully to buy the house he grew up in, settling instead for a substitute a few blocks down, and shutting himself away from the world as much as he can while waiting for the Grim Reaper to knock on the door. Except that the knocks come from curious neighbours who cannot fathom why this young man is living as he does.

It's somewhat similar to Half Nelson where the protagonist is being numb to life, and couldn't care less if his neighbourhood's burning to the ground. Luke Wilson, often overshadowed by his more illustrious brother Owen, carries the weight of this film on his shoulders with nonchalant ease as the titular Henry Poole. He's mean to everyone, in a stage of denial and has this immense rage against the world, despite neighbours such as elderly and religious lady Esperanza (Adriana Barraza), single mother Dawn (Radha Mitchell) and daughter Millie (the cute Morgan Lily who had her 1 minute cut at fame with He's Just Not That Into You), and grocery store checkout girl Patience (Rachel Seiferth) trying their best to connect a little with him and bring him out of his shell.

The crux of the story here centers around the mysterious, well, coincidental appearance of a water stain on the wall of his house, and to Esperanza, it looks like the image of Christ. So begins the mad tussle for his sanity when he has to spurn all Esperanza and her friends' advances into his property to pay homage to their God. And to compound matters, miracles start to happen all around Henry on the people he knows, thus challenging his very core beliefs through doubt.

Religious allegory aside, the theme here is primarily of hope and not giving up. I still feel a Plan A type as mentioned in my first paragraph, an optimistic, fear none, gung-ho spirit to take the bull by the horns, would be the best way forward. Sitting around moping and wasting away isn't a solution. Something like attempting and completing your bucket list before you call it a day. is. It's also a reminder that one shouldn't be too proud to admit the need for help, and to seek it. After all, the old man up there helps those who help themselves, and we must be the one who knock, so that it can be answered. Watching this modestly pace film allows you ample time to ponder over what you would do, if you were in Henry's exact same situation.

Well rounded great acting by the ensemble cast makes this one man journey toward redemption pretty engaging to watch. And having an excellent soundtrack helps to, even though it's just to accompany slow-motion, drama-mam visuals usually with Henry in deep thought, wondering what to do next with the limited time granted to him. Some may not like the cop-out ending, but I felt that it served its purpose in fulfilling its thematic exploration and reminding one and all that nothing's ever hopeless, unless you allow it to.
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A slightly quirky movie-length Touched By an Angel
dan-sisan14 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at a free advanced screening, and I got what I paid for.

Going in I knew very little about the movie, which starts out intriguing enough. After Luke Wilson's character moves his scant possessions into a bland suburban LA house, bought for its proximity to another house not for sale (even after offering "whatever they wanted"), he notices a curious mark on the newly refurbished stucco exterior.

He actually didn't want anything in the house fixed (or the price negotiated), but the real estate agent had the sellers fix the stucco anyway -- which we learn from the agent herself, who actually appears moments later in his backyard just to check on him. And so begins the first of many improbable "saviors" to appear intrusively in his life (and backyard). Count also the nosy Hispanic neighbor, her priest, the chirpy supermarket cashier, the conveniently hot and newly single other neighbor, her eccentric six year old daughter, and then some. Wilson's character looks obviously depressed and repeatedly asks to be left alone, but in the writer's imagination apparently that's a great way to build social capital!

If this strains your suspension of disbelief, you're likely not in the target audience, because (as later discovered in the poster ad) the central plot element is a miracle. Not even a metaphorical or quirky miracle (e.g., the frogs in Magnolia), but the most cliché one possible. Despite this, the movie was at an indie theater and seems marketed at the Sundance crowd. There were some quirky stylistic elements and the soundtrack had the likes of The Eels and recent Bob Dylan, but the movie was heavy-handed, sentimental, unbelievable (on multiple levels), and predictable. Imagine a Sunday night Hallmark Special going for the faux-profundity and style of "Crash" and "American Beauty."

It'll probably get nominated for an Oscar.
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In This Case, Less is Not More
adam8it216 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I don't need explosions or boobs to enjoy a movie. Great movies can be simple in terms of story and budget. In this case, Henry Poole is Here attempts to force-feed you a pro-hope message, counting on the dialog to keep you ignoring the fact they filmed this movie down the street from your house in about a day and a half. Luke Wilson is the only standout and even he struggles to come off believable.

Esperanza's character needed a strong actress in order to make her seem genuine. Instead, we have a chubby lady with a Latina accent who refuses to stop annoying Henry.

The ending was a forgone conclusion when Henry predictably destroys the water stain. Oh, and guess what? You were never sick. Your doctor incorrectly diagnosed you with an incurable, extremely rare disease but, thanks to hope, you were never ill to begin with. This movie comes off like a mandatory bad high school assembly play. See that everyone? So, stay hopeful and everything, OK?
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Best movie I've seen in many years...
jakeh14 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Henry Poole Is Here" (and the accompanying soundtrack) is absolutely brilliant! The best work Luke Wilson has done thus far in his career. The story itself is beautifully woven throughout with comedy, anger, and pathos, all accentuated with wonderfully chosen music (from indie artists, appropriate since the movie is an indie, itself). While I can't agree with the Catholic-slant of idolic figure worship, being an evangelical Christian, and don't much like the use of the name "Jesus" in the derogatory sense, I can get by those parts since the imagery/usage is rather ironic considering the premise of the story. I don't believe the writer and director truly could, themselves, see the parallels between what they had written/directed since it goes much deeper than just a story of Christ's "picture" on a stucco wall: Henry's (false) belief he is dying equates to "everyman," who is, indeed, dying one way or another everyday, but doesn't realize he is truly alive if he would but see the truth (evidenced by Henry's crying scene when he is trying to see the image the way others do; he just can let himself go and surrender to faith); Millie's lack of speech (due to trauma from a loss) is indicative of ourselves, in many ways, since we, too, can become "speechless" (depression) when confronted with one loss after another, but "regain" that speech (and be filled with joy) after we see the truth and understand it. Those are just two symbolisms I found; more are evident. It's the only movie I've watched several times in many a year and has quickly become a movie from which I can acquire both comedy relief and spiritual enlightenment at the same time. And the music...fantastic.
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A representation of a state of mind.
Terry Watson21 September 2008
I salute the director for this movie, absolutely superb, if you enjoy films with quality direction and acting like "Life before her eyes", watch this. This is a must see for those people with an artistic eye and thinkers. Other directors and actors should learn from this. I was encouraged to write this my first review because I could not believe that a number of people criticised this movie. If you have emotions and you spend time thinking about how crazy the rat race of life is from time to time don't let any of the negative reviews stop you from watching this movie. There are not many films which earn the right to be watched again in the future but I will definitely buy this when it comes out on DVD.
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Henry Poole is a character that will stay with you
napierslogs14 May 2011
Henry Poole is here, but to him, only for awhile. Luke Wilson in a very mature and refined role plays Henry Poole, a character who has given up on the future—in every sense of it. He just wants to be left alone. But that becomes increasingly difficult when a devout Christian neighbour thinks a water stain on his wall is actually the face of Christ.

For the most part, the turns from there are comical. The passion his neighbours have in their faith contrasted with his resolute atheism are played up perfectly without offending either. His internal struggles of living a meaningless life are put on hold as he struggles with remaining in solitary but still being cordial towards his well-meaning neighbours who insist on trespassing, vandalizing, and gardening in his backyard. As his neighbours attempt to change his beliefs, he needs to start readjusting his views of life and the future.

There are some serious (at least to him) resolutions that Henry Poole has to come to. The fairly simple journey the film takes, and the rather profound journey that Henry must take, are slow, thoughtful, and meaningful. "Henry Poole is Here" doesn't have to be viewed as a religion vs. atheism debate, because that's not what it is at all. It's just a character study.

"Henry Poole is Here" got a limited release having been marketed as a religious film but then failing to win over that audience. It's DVD release still didn't get the audience it deserved. I was elated to find it playing on "Saturday Night at the Movies" on TV as this was a character that has stayed with me for two years. On repeat viewing, it was easy to see why. Henry Poole will be with me for many more.
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Put a little love in your heart.......
yossarian10024 September 2008
.....have a little faith, and you just may experience miracles. If not that, maybe you won't mind all that suffering going on around you quite so much.

OK, so I'm not all that fond of wishful thinking. However, I'm OK with my movies going there if they want to.

This one is a nicely told, well performed little story that may be a little too weepy for some but I'm not complaining. I know where the Kleenex are.

I thought Luke Wilson did a seriously good job of playing a curmudgeon with a negative medical prognosis, but I think the story is a little lopsided in that it goes right to polar extremes for its choices. You either wrap yourself in a miracle or you're just angry and sad. No middle ground, huh?
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Sad and Angry
David Ferguson18 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. I left the theatre feeling utterly cheated and disappointed. How odd, considering the film had me mesmerized with the first 30-40 minutes.

In Act I, we are introduced to Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) as he seems to spontaneously purchase a suburban home from perky Realtor Cheryl Hines by directing her to avoid negotiation and repairs. Wilson perfectly captures the lost spirit of a man ... we as viewers just don't yet know WHY. As he apparently tries to drink himself to death, his efforts are constantly interrupted by his well meaning neighbor, Esperanza, played exceedingly well by Adriana Barraza ("Babel") and a helpful grocery checker played by a marvelous Rachel Seiferth.

Wilson's real misery begins when Esperanza notices the face of Christ in the stucco of Wilson's house. His desire to be left alone in solitude is ruined forever as it attracts neighbors, friends of neighbors and the Catholic Church ... notably a caring priest played well by George Lopez. When another neighbor (Radha Mitchell) and her disturbed young daughter get involved, all hell breaks loose (so to speak).

It is at this point, that director Mark Pellington begins tossing in his music video interludes (Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, etc). Pellington's background is U2, INXSand Pearl Jam, and he was exceptional. However, we don't want or need the video moment to capture feeling in a film. We need strong writing, directing and acting. The second half of the film crumbles and we never buy the relationship between Wilson and Mitchell and the miracle cures come off as hokey.

My disappointment stems from a terrific premise, a strong 30 minutes and then the balloon popping thanks to poor execution. Kudos to Wilson for a good performance, but sadly this one is destined to the video bin.
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TV film full of emptiness
martisana6 February 2009
This story is just so empty, and i'm angry at myself for waisting my time at watching this. You're just waiting for something to happens and then, nothing happens at all. Luke Wilson is such a bad actor here, you don't know if he's sad, or angry, or is he in pain, or bored. Through out the story you don't get any explanation, the dialogs are empty, the characters are boring, the music is irritating. And yet from the beginning you just know what is going to happen, it has few of a great clichés. Maybe it could be something out of this, but the scenario is bad, bad, bad. I don't really understand all the enthusiasm here. Anyway, it's more likely a TV movie.
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I LOVE this film including its three world-class performances
jeffreybehr18 August 2008
Luke Wilson, Rahda Mitchell, and Adriana Barraza give excellent performances. NEVER did I see a movie star on screen; I saw real people behaving in real situations.

The plot centers around a man who may be dying and wants to be left alone versus a stain on a wall that may or may not be the face of Jesus Christ and which attracts far more attention than the man wants. Barraza, the Mexican nanny in 'Babel', is excellent as the nosy, caring, way-too-Catholic next-door neighbor who discovers the 'image'. Mitchell, whom I remembered but not where until IMDb pointed me at 'Pitch Black', plays the other next-door neighbor. She has a very natural beauty, and her performance is highly sincere. I've not seen Wilson before--or if I did, I didn't want to remember it--but he too is very convincing as a fellow who believes in little but champagne, Krispy Creme donuts, and pizza.

I'm Christian but can't stand to be around blatant, do-gooding, overbearing, preachy Christians, and the writer and director balanced Henry's initial desires to die in peace with the hubbub this so-called image creates.

Highly recommended. I'm off to see it again.
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