Monday, July 11, 2011

Malcolm Venville: Henry's Crime

So, I did finally get around to watching Henry's Crime. It was worth waiting for. :-) I really wish I could have seen it on a theater screen, but what are you gonna do. It's not too late, I guess. But it's in any case a low key movie with few special effects and it works really well on a TV screen too.

Brief recap of the story: Our hero, Henry, is a man with no momentum who works the most boring job in the universe but doesn't mind. His wife wants them to start a family, but he resists ... or actually that's not fair to say either. He just has zero forward momentum. Every day is the same dull routine and he has no drive to change that. He's also not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and one day is dragged into a rather unfortunate event by some of his so-called friends. They rob a bank and leave him to take the fall. He ends up in jail and his wife leaves him. But he does make a friend in the big house - professional con man Max, very well played by James Caan. When he's released, he's determined to take charge of his life and not just drift aimlessly like he did before ... and what better way to start than by actually doing what he already served time for, ie, robbing the bank. He comes up with a clever plan and with a little help, mainly from Max, starts putting thought into action. Of course there's a love interest, the always charming Vera Farmiga, she is one of the highlights of the movie. Henry's plan moves forwards, kind of in fits and starts, but definitely forwards ... but can it really work? And even if it does, is robbing the bank really what he wants?

Henry's Crime is a comedy in one sense, it's definitely funny, and it can't help but be funny, because the premise and the whole story is really so absurd. You gotta laugh. :-) But at the same time it's also very sad. The title character is a pretty depressing fellow. He's a pretty good image, actually, of the alienation in the modern world. His life has no meaning, and he doesn't know how to inject meaning into it. And he can't really attempt to find out how, because even if he had the drive to do so, he needs the job and he needs the house and the car and the stuff ... so he's stuck. Going to jail is the best thing that could happen to him. :-)

So ... absurdly funny, but also sad. A little depressing to see how all the colors were so drab, nothing bright anywhere. Interesting the way they used Chekhov and his play The Cherry Orchard almost as props within the movie. The script is very good, and I thought it was mostly well acted ... there are a couple of supporting characters that I felt were rather one-dimensional, but they weren't in the movie much, so it wasn't much of a problem. I think Keanu did a very good job, which wasn't surprising as this is exactly the kind of role that works for him, a low key movie which he doesn't have to carry, but is more part of an ensemble where he doesn't have to lead the pack the whole way. So to speak. I hope that makes sense. :-) Caan and Farmiga were both excellent too. And the interplay between Henry and Max was worth seeing the movie for. :-)

Overall I really liked this movie, and Anne Ida did too ... on its own terms, it's a good movie and well worth watching. Not for the action fans. But for the rest of us. :-)

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