In a scathing movie review of a new movie, Variety Magazine ruthlessly attacks the religiosity of a movie about a man’s faith journey after learning he hasn’t long to live. God forbid someone should start thinking about God after he’s learned he’s dying. The time would be much better spent railing against religion.
Because it’s billed as a more personal project for Mark Pellington after a string of interesting, idiosyncratic thrillers (“Arlington Road,” “The Mothman Prophecies”), “Henry Poole Is Here” is all the more disappointing. Pic’s tendency to lecture on the power of faith and religion and on the demerits of science seems to assume an almost childlike audience that needs to be spoon-fed Pablum. This tale of a single man whose medical death sentence is reversed in part by a neighborhood of believers won’t advance the profile of the always-likable Luke Wilson, and Christian moviegoers will have to show up in great numbers to keep the film from being doomed to something far less than sleeper status.
So insistent is the film that lack of belief in God is a personal failure, nonbelievers are likely to feel offended. Not since “The Passion of the Christ” has a mainstream Hollywood product insisted so firmly in faith while its deprecation of science and medicine has seemed singularly harsh.
I think he means the “Passion of the Christ,” you know the one that grossed something like a billion dollars.
The movie centers on a Los Angeles suburb where the very glum Henry Poole purchases a slightly rundown home and makes it clear to all that he wants to be left alone. The only other irritant for Poole is a large stain on an outside stucco wall of the house which many believe looks like the face of Christ.
Understandably peeved, particularly when Esperanza begins bringing over some of her church congregants and her priest, Father Salazar (George Lopez), to witness “the miracle,” Henry wants everyone out. Esperanza asks him, “Don’t you believe in God?”, the question seemingly a grave accusation, implying Henry has some growing to do. Albert Torres’ screenplay telegraphs that this eruption of faith will connect with and reverse Henry’s fatalism, which he expresses enigmatically with, “I won’t be here that long.”
When Millie touches a tiny blood stain that has appeared on the “face” of the stain, and is suddenly able to resume talking, Henry seems heartless for denying the church flock their new shrine.
It is clear this reviewer is “peeved” that faith exists at all. And how dare faith show itself in a movie. Well, I’ll be at this movie. I’ll get my big popcorn. My giant soda. And a spoonful of pablum.
Update: Here is the trailer from YouTube.