Idol Chatter

henrypooleisherepic.jpgI have a penchant for movies about survival–stories where the heroine or hero begins as down and out as a result of some loss, or setback, or even intense grief and despair, yet somehow, often rather a bit magically, we watch as this person reawakens to the mysteries and beauty of life. Of living. Of waking up each day and slowly emerging from whatever darkness had befallen them and realizing the will to live or even rediscovering the joy of living.
Henry Poole Is Here” starring Luke Wilson as Henry is one of these stories.

I didn’t know much about this film when I walked into the theater–only that Henry is depressed for some reason (I thought maybe he was getting divorced), he buys a new house, and a neighbor subsequently sees Jesus in the stucco job on one of the walls. I thought it would be slap-stick comedy–and there is plenty of laugh out loud moments–but it’s far from slapstick. And it is everything but cheesy.
Henry Poole is the best kind of quirky, Indie film. It’s the story of a man at the end of his rope (I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to spoil it for you), who is looking for answers, reasons, the meaning of his life. When it comes knocking–quite literally–on his door in the form of sweet, squat, well-meaning, busy-body neighbor, Esperanza, who has made Henry tamales to welcome him to the neighborhood–Henry is not ready to accept or even begin to see the gifts that she will bring to his life. But from the first appearance of Esperanza, Henry’s life begins to shift.
Esperanza is the real savior of Henry and her tiny, tight-knit community, even more-so than what she believes is the “miracle” of the figure of Jesus that she sees on his wall–and brings her church and neighbors alike to set-up shop in Henry’s yard. Henry is a staunch atheist who resists Esperanza at every turn, who, sometimes viciously denounces the miracle she sees as a load of crap, who screams and yells at anyone and everyone who sees anything more than plaster on his wall. He’s so angry about everyone else’s belief in this “miracle” and the healings experienced by neighbors from touching his wall that he is bent on destroying it altogether.
Henry doesn’t believe in miracles and he doesn’t want anyone else to either. He sets out to destroy any sense of the miraculous in everyone who comes near him and his house.
Have no fear. This movie never strays from the quirky and never turns toward the pat ending (though there is a sweet romance layered into the story). You will laugh out loud at all the silliness surrounding the plaster-Jesus and you will probably cry a number of times as well. And you may walk out of the theater believing a little more in the miracle of survival than when you first entered it. But between Luke Wilson’s performance that is filled with humor and emotional depth, and a stunning, moving, and wonderfully lighthearted performance by Adriana Barraza as Esperanza, this movie never loses its charm. You will wish for an Esperanza (which means hope, in Spanish) to enter your life some time, too. She embodies the meaning of “Love thy neighbor.”
“Henry Poole Is Here” is a must-see. Get ready to be surprised.
Luke-Wilson at

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