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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Henry Poole Was Is Here

Henry Poole Is Here (2008) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Henry Poole's generous offer for his dream house in the suburbs is turned down for it not being on the market. It appears to be on his bucket wish list (“the last place I remember being happy”) save that he looks to be in the prime of life and real estate opportunities generally require watching & waiting more than hap­hazard grabbing. As was expressed in one Quintin Jardine novel, “‘If wishes were horses we'd a' get a hurl,’ he recalled his grand­father telling him” (257). Henry gets thrown off that horse/house and settles for another three-bed­room manse in the same neighborhood … where he becomes a layabout.

A flashback to six weeks earlier gives us the backstory. His annual doctor's checkup shows him to be fit as a fiddle, although he could use a little more exercise. They just await the blood & urine work to be completed, but they have every confidence. You know how that goes: If wishes were horses—

MadonnaNow he settles in to being a couch potato on a steady diet of pizza and spirits (“It's a phase.”) For some­body wishing to be left alone, his grocery selection has the down­side of being a social magnet, every­body loves pizza and booze. The most extreme example I recall is in a folk song where the face of the Virgin Mary appeared on a cooked pizza. First one neighbor came to see, then another, and soon the kitchen got so crowded they had to move into the living room to discuss how they were going to capitalize on this “miracle.” While they were discussing their big plans, one hungry little girl wandered back into the kitchen looking for some­thing to eat. You can guess how those plans got tossed out. If wishes were horses— Oh well, the song concluded, there's a little bit of God in all of us.


Henry's wish to be left alone is not very well respected, first by the solicitous real estate agent Mrs. Meg Wyatt (Cheryl Hines) and then by his neighbors on either side. (Prov. 30:15) “The horse­leach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.” It is the business of a real estate agent to get to know her customers, so we may suppose she would seem like a leach sucking up Henry's private data. But the neighbors would be products of that same leach having been sold their homes by the inquisitive agent(s.) Now they would assume it's normative to ask probing questions of the new arrival, wanting him to give up his personal info. I call the “two daughters” in the proverb audio and visual. Six-year-old Millie Stupek (Morgan Lily) next door needs a male neighbor to talk to, having suffered abandon­ment anxiety when her father left, and on the other side Catholic neighbor Esperanza (Adriana Barraza) just wants to look in on him as she'd been good friends with the former resident there, Leo. It's the female clerk at the Super Bueno Market who combines audio and visual, perceiving from their abortive conversations and his brooding manner that there is some­thing wrong with Henry, which should be explored. Her name is Patience (Rachel Seiferth,) Millie's mom is Dawn (Radha Mitchell,) and Esperanza is Spanish for hope. The writer seems to be tele­graphing that hope will dawn with patience.

(Prov. 30:15-16) “There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.” The grave is never full. It's not that the older generation has died off and that's the end of it, but Leo suffered a fatal heart attack, too, and we don't know exactly what is wrong with Henry, but it ain't good news.

Next is “the barren womb.” Dawn is living in a house big enough for more than just the one child, and for that matter she'd want her mute daughter to over­come her psycho­logical hang-up. Maybe a man would help with that.

Jesus in the clouds“The earth that is not filled with water.” Our watery planet isn't totally covered by smooth waves, but the wet stuff sinks down into the earth producing vegetation and patterns of sediment. Some­one with an artistic eye might even perceive meaning in those patterns. Esperanza sees a divine apparition in the water stain on Henry's re-stuccoed house. The priest Father Salazar (George Lopez) sees how it might be an image of a Person. Various neighbors—more than Henry ever wanted involved—see some­thing in it, too. Henry is less than certain.

“And the fire that saith not, It is enough.” We are told that Henry's parents fought and bickered a lot when he was little. Evidently, they broke up as they aren't around any more, and beyond his early days Henry didn't know any happy home life. Fighting is a fire that feeds on itself. It's likely they fought about money, because we see it was some­thing of a priority in their lives leaving them reasonably well off. It's some­thing that couples do fight about. It rubbed off on Henry motivated by success working in the financial district. Until he ended up in the burbs flat on his back.

Production Values

” (2008) was directed by Mark Pellington. The screenplay was written by Albert Torres. It stars Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, and George Lopez. Included in the cast were Cheryl Hines, Richard Benjamin and little Morgan Lily. Wilson was a prime choice for lead and didn't disap­point. Mitchell was out­standing as the single mom next door. Mexican actress Adriana Barraza held her own as the nosy neighbor. The rest of the cast filled in just fine.

MPAA rated it PG for thematic elements and some language. It was mostly in English with a smat­tering of Spanish. It included music inter­ludes from the likes of Ben Harper & Bob Dylan. It wasn't very preachy and the philosophy was accessible. The writing was well done and the repartee amusing. Catholicism is the default Christian religion for movies because it makes for good optics, here and else­where. The cinema­tog­raphy employed angled shots to good effect. It was edited just right.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one humanized a Christian miraculous theme leaving it in back­ground while we appreciated all the drama in the neighbor­hood. I don't think it will or was intended to make converts, but it helps one accept the religious as a viable concern to some people. The movie was heart­felt, deserving of its Heart­land Award as a truly moving picture. I highly recommend it. Personally, I'm receptive to miracles, but I sure couldn't make any­thing out of that water stain except for the special effects blood.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action beyond physical exercise and play. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Jardine, Quintin. A Brush With Death. Copyright © 2018 Portador. Ltd. London: Headline Publishing Group, 2018. Paperback.