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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Henry Poole Is Here (review)

This isn’t a movie: it’s a sermon. A gentle, relatively inoffensive sermon, to be sure — the greatest affront to adherents to reason may be its suggestion that the idea of something that is not only unexplained but inexplicable is a good thing — but nevertheless, this mild drama has nothing to offer nondevout Christians… and devout Christians probably don’t need its lesson on the value of choosing to believe. When the face of Jesus appears in a water stain on the side of the modest California house where “sad, angry” Henry (Luke Wilson: 3:10 to Yuma) lives, he rails against the little old church ladies who come to pray and, they hope, be healed of whatever ails them. Will the stain heal eventually whatever is ailing Henry? That the ending is inevitable is more forgiveable than the fact that everything is open to interpretation — are miracles at work? does God exist? or is it all the power of suggestion at work on the mysterious human mind? — until the one-hour mark, when all doubt is removed… and hence all need for faith as well.


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MPAA: rated PG for thematic elements and some language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb

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