Juggling a job as a waitress and raising two boys on her own--little Peter, and the 11-year-old child prodigy, Henry--the single mother, Susan Carpenter, has a somewhat chaotic life, depending on Henry to manage the household's finances. However, things will take an unexpected turn, when Henry's innocent crush on the beautiful girl next door and hopeful ballet dancer, Christina, unveils a cruel and shocking revelation, dragging Susan in the middle of a dark conspiracy. Will the Carpenters take the law into their own hands; moreover, what's written inside Henry's little red book?Written by
This was Colin Trevorrow and John Schwartzman's second film to be shot in the Univisium (2.00:1) format since Jurassic World (2015), although it was projected at 1.85:1 theatrically. See more »
Henry is seen using a payphone to make stock trades. He is using fractions. While it could be just his personality/condition, US markets switched to decimals on April 9, 2001. Later in the movie the doctor shows the MRI scan on a tablet too advanced for pre-2001. See more »
The film was shot for the Univisium aspect ratio of 2.00:1, but was presented theatrically in the standard 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The Univisium ratio is preserved on the home video release of the film. See more »
Surprisingly good with excellent performances, writing and camera work
I had no expectations going into this movie. I knew I like the director, the leading actress and it had an interesting premise. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this under-the-radar film and am sure general audiences will as well. The Book of Henry is an emotionally affecting film with a few fine messages about parenthood and altruism.
The movie actually surprised me. Perhaps it's because I had no prior knowledge about it, but the twist (I don't think it's supposed to be a twist per se) in the movie is reminiscent of Psycho, in that the seeming protagonist has an interesting cinematic journey. That provides the basis of our catharsis. It's actually very solid writing. We become invested in this character who has a charm and wit about him that's irresistibly likable and we fall for him. We become invested in his relationships with his mother, his little brother and his neighbor. The plot is already in motion and then the twist happens.
After this twist, the true protagonist comes to the forefront and we become invested in her because we feel for her and root for her cause. The only issue - her cause happens to be literally unbelievable and predictably improbable. However, we find ourselves nearly believing it. I mean, there's a sequence that's utterly Hitchcockian, when there's cross editing between two separate scenes. One scene is used as the musical background for the other and the tension is palpable. It's reminiscent of the concert scene in The Man Who Knew Too Much. It all comes to a satisfying ending that we all knew was coming and yet, isn't any less smile inducing.
The performances are very good. Naomi Watts is one of our generation's most consistent actors and the youngsters Jacob Tremblay and Jaeden Lieberher hold their weight and then some. However the score and direction deserve a lot of credit. The film is very well paced and switches between tones so seamlessly. Never are we pulled out of the film because it gets boring or it goes too quickly or it switches between genres.
A lot of reviews are bashing the film. Don't get me wrong, it has its flaws. The foundation of the character is never told and is a glaring hole. A few plot elements are improbable, definitely. However, those are forgivable in the grand scheme. This film has charm and intrigue. I believe it'll go down as one of those films where critics and general audiences just don't agree. With that said, I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18. It can be seen at a local theater when it opens June 16, 2017.
Reviewed by Willie J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic.
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