The fact that Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies) is directing gives me some pause, and hope, but if I were fishing for irksome independent-flavored summer product, then Henry Poole is Here, a character ensemble being billed as “a modern day fable about the unexpected wonders of the everyday,” looks like it might fit the bill handsomely, perhaps largely because of the presence of Luke Wilson, and the visions of his well-worn, rumpled shtick that photos like the one below conjures up.
Starring Wilson, Radha Mitchell and Adriana Barraza (an Academy Award nominee for Babel), the film, opening in limited fashion on July 25 from Overture Films*, is described as being about a disillusioned man who, shattered by circumstances beyond his control, attempts to hide from life in a rundown, suburban tract home, only to discover he cannot escape “the forces of hope.” Those, one supposes, are embodied not by Barack Obama, but instead by Barraza’s well-meaning busybody neighbor, Esperanza — who drops by with a plate of homemade tamales and discovers a mysterious stain on Henry’s stucco wall that is seen to have miraculous powers — and Dawn (Mitchell), the beautiful young divorcée and single mom living next door, with an 8-year-old daughter who hasn’t spoken a word since her parents’ break-up.
This sounds very much like the sort of thing adapted from a novel, and yet the fact that’s actually not (debut screenwriter Albert Torres gets the credit) makes me feel as though it was written as a “statement” by a frustrated and/or unpublished novelist, and thus downgrade it accordingly. Does that make me cynical bastard? Perhaps. And yet, if I’m going to spend 90-120 minutes watching someone who’s threatening to sink in on themselves, and either drink themselves to death (e.g., Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas) or withdraw depressively from society, then it should be someone with some glimmer of an outwardly manifested engaging personality, the better to starkly highlight the snuffed flame. In short, it shouldn’t be Luke Wilson.
* UPDATE, 4/14: Henry Poole is Here is now scheduled to open August 15, 2008.