Henry Poole Was Here
I notice that in recent years my preference for obscure, small budget movies has grown.
Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is despondent after a diagnosis that numbers his days. He returns to his place of birth in listless surrender to await fate. He buys a house recently vacated and conveniently adjacent to Dawn, a widow (Radha Mitchell) and her adorable 6 year old daughter Millie (Morgan Lily).
A neighbor, Esperanza, stops by to make welcome and notices what appears to be the face of Christ in the discoloration on a back wall. Thus begins the mission of a devout woman who struggles to tell the locals about this miracle much to Henry's dismay.
Henry has no faith, especially since his recent medical experience, and seeks only solitude. Nevertheless a continuing parade of the faithful swells in number if only to bear witness, especially after two 'miracles'. Millie has been mute for months after an emotional loss. She wakes in the night, touches the manifestation, and her speech is restored. Similarly Patience (Rachel Seiferth) is a cashier who notices the constant diet of alcohol Henry prefers despite her near blindness. Her thick lenses are cast aside after touching the wall.
Such is the basic setting for this endearing film. Of course Henry falls in love with Dawn and Millie and finds acceptance in his home town. The film resolves in a deliberate pace from director Mark Pellington. It has overtones of the devine and the rejected. Solitude is disrupted, plans set adrift, liabilities cast aside, reawakening occurs... in short, life goes on. And it goes on without a single special effect. The characters (Dawn, Patience, Esperanza etc.) are all set pieces that deliver redemption even in their names (Esperanza means 'Hope').
Luke Wilson can really use a hit and gets one here despite the low budget. Radha Mitchel (Silent Hill, Pitch Black) steps outside her sci-fi roots to deliver a touching portrayal. The film also features George Lopez as the Preacher and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as the Real Estate agent. But the adorable 'Hobbit' Morgan Lily is the breakout.