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Henry Poole is Here

September 19, 2015

HPIHabout a disillusioned man who goes hiding in placid suburbia only to discover he cannot escape the forces of hope. Returning to the middleclass neighbourhood where he grew up, Henry chooses to live in indulgent isolation. Real life, however, refuses to cooperate with his plans. Nosy neighbours interrupt him with curious visits and prying questions. Then the situation escalates as a stain on Henry’s stucco wall is seen to have miraculous powers – an image of Jesus. His last-ditch hideout becomes a shrine; his backyard turns into an arena for passionate debate about faith and destiny. Seeking anonymous oblivion, cynical Henry Poole instead finds himself right at the center of the human comedy. A modern-day fable, director Mark Pellington’s new film investigates the unexpected wonders of the everyday. A faithless man finds hope. A hopeless man finds love. Whether backyard miracles are real or triggered by hope and belief, their personal effects are permanent.

Themes: belief, faith, doubt, evidence for God, love and commitment.


Patience: Imagine that there was something wrong with you, Mr. Poole. And you did this seemingly meaningless thing, put your hand on a wall, and you were healed.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated the film 3½ out of four stars and said it “achieves something that is uncommonly difficult. It is a spiritual movie with the power to emotionally touch believers, agnostics and atheists – in that descending order, I suspect. It doesn’t say that religious beliefs are real. It simply says that belief is real. And it’s a warm-hearted love story . . . I fell for it.”

Reyhan Harmanci of the San Francisco Chronicle called it “a strange and thoughtful little movie” and added, “The film manages to be successfully character-driven, but the characters ride on a flimsy plot.”

Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times graded the film C- and commented, “Henry Poole Is Here is aimed at the Bible bunch, who will be more tolerant of its oversimplification of theological mystery. They’ll see Henry as a lost soul resisting Christian power until that becomes impossible, then sing praises when it does. But that doesn’t change the fact that Pellington’s movie is draggy-dull and a bit annoying with its piety. Hollywood still does sin much better than salvation.”

symbolism – characters’ names – Esperanza is Spanish for “hope”; Henry’s house is empty, barren, dark, and bleak. A neighbour’s backyard, likewise, is in stages of raw disorder, although their house is warm and inviting. We were shocked every time Henry left his home and we saw the neighborhood full of lush, flourishing yards and homes. The contrast between Henry and other people is shown to us thus to make an overall impression that sinks in

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