Henry Poole Is Here

Rated 3.0

Something’s eating Henry Poole. Something serious. He moves back to the bland Los Angeles ’burb in which he grew up, presumably to disappear from the world, but he is played by Luke Wilson, so of course the world wants him to feel better. When his busybody neighbor (Adrianna Barraza) becomes convinced that the face of Christ has appeared in a stain on his backyard wall, it’s the last thing Henry needs. Then again, his other neighbor is a gorgeous, completely available single mom (Radha Mitchell), so maybe his needs are being provided for. It’s hard not to wonder how Henry Poole Is Here would play if somebody had the balls to cut it down to 25 or 30 minutes in length. That’s about how much story there is in Albert Torres’ poignant, sometimes funny and sometimes tender-verging-on-rubbery script. Then it wouldn’t matter that all the characters seem like symbols, or that they live in a vacuum. Then the movie wouldn’t feel so strident on the matters of grief and spiritual conviction, which it does take seriously. Instead, it would remain full of power and mystery—a marvel, if not a miracle. But director Mark Pellington, most recently of U23D and an MTV alum, likes to tease things out, especially and predictably by stuffing his film with moody, often overcooked musical interludes. He and Torres do have something moving to say; some of it we’ll just have to take on faith.