A 10-years-later continuation of henry fool where fay grim is coerced by a cia agent to try & locate notebooks that belonged to her fugitive ex-husband. Published in them is information that could compromise the security o... more »f the u.S. causing fay to first head to paris to fetch them .. Studio: Magnolia Pict Hm Ent Release Date: 07/29/2008 Starring: Parker Posey Jeff Goldblum Run time: 118 minutes Rating: R« less
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 06/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm one of those people who'd crawl a mile through broken glass to see a Hal Hartley film. From TRUST and IRIS to Henry Fool and (my Hartley favorite) No Such Thing, Hal's unique brand of movies are an acquired taste. Infusing equal parts mystery/espionage with wispy comedy seems to be his forte. The comedy isn't in your face necessarily, and often runs throughout an entire scene before coming to fruition. And that's the case with FAY GRIM, the sequel to Henry Fool.
Parker Posey stars as Fay Grim, abandoned wife of Henry Fool and mother to Henry's only son Ned. Fay lives a quiet life until she comes home one day to find a CIA agent in her kitchen. His name is Fulbright (Jeff Goldblum, Man of the Year) and he wants Henry's notebooks. There are many Henry Fool notebooks and they were all previously believed to contain nothing but mad wanderings. Apparently there's much more to them. Secrets weapons research or paths to terrorists? Who knows but Henry. Agent Fulbright tells Fay that her husband is dead but this is quickly surmised as a ruse to get Fay out of her home and searching for Henry (and it works ...but not the way they think).
Fay battles multiple spy rings to gather Henry's notebooks and to seek him out. She also makes a deal with the CIA to get her brother Simon (James Urbaniak) out of prison (he'd helped Henry escape the country in the original Henry Fool film.)
Multiple overlapping events occur in rapid succession: spy rings shoot each other to death, Henry is discovered being held in "safety" by a jihadist, Fay frees her brother but unknowingly risks her son's life, and the CIA gets its comeuppance for putting Fay in danger.
Hal Hartley obviously loves to play with themes. And he does so to the extreme here. Even character names (Grim, Fool, Fulbright, Fogg) have implicit meanings of their own that are quite funny. The over-the-top espionage films of ol' are given plenty of screen time, too, as guns blaze in stop-motion sequences, never striking our heroine even though she's right in the line of fire.
Now that I've heaped praise on this creation, I will say that Parker Posey's excessive portrayal of Fay Grim isn't the best part of the film, which is a shame considering how much time she's on-screen. I realize this was probably what Mr. Hartley wanted: an uncurbed woman with hand gestures to the Italian extreme. But it was still painful to watch at times.
Even so, fans will probably devour Fay Grim and beg for more. Though this wasn't my favorite Hal Hartley film, I know I'm ready."
Nice rebound from Hartley
J. Kenney | 05/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hal Hartley has in my opinion made several great films: AMATEUR, BOOK OF LIFE, SURVIVING DESIRE and HENRY FOOL are the best, unique deadpan comedies and dramas in love with language and human weakness, with moments of inspired poetry, verbal and visual. He is also an "art" filmmaker, making films that have never crossed over to a larger audience; his one "big budgeted" film, NO SUCH THING, is easily his worst, and in fact, since BOOK OF LIFE in 98, his work has been largely interesting without being wholly successful, as he has become more concerned with political and social issues than interpersonal ones; he has a tendency to be a little too on-the-nose on these topics, with both THING and GIRL FROM MONDAY tending towards self-righteous polemics that rail against too-obvious topics without much effect. MONDAY is much better than THING, but neither work as well as any of his earlier work.
FAY GRIM, a sequel to HENRY FOOL, is a large step back in the right direction; while more political than ever, he integrates it into his unique deadpan storytelling style much better than he has previously this decade, and offers moments of inspired lunacy and heart that haven't been seen since BOOK OF LIFE. GRIM is a bit overstuffed, and likely won't win many converts, but fans of Hartley's work in the 90s who have not forgotten his inimitable style and point of view will welcome this film, warts and all, which plays like a kind of very dry international thriller (don't go looking for any action scenes, as much of the violence that does occur plays out in freeze-frame sequences) mixed with the family/love story comedy found in FOOL.
It's nice to see Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows smoothly join the mix of usual Hartley regulars, though it'd be nice if Hartley and Martin Donovan could team up again. The DVD is widescreen anamorphic (shot on high definition video), with some reasonable extras."
A spoof that sometimes hits/misses. Worth a try
Gary Coffrin | San Jose, California, USA | 09/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a low-budget and highly stylized spoof of the espionage genre.
To help frame your expectations, you should know that: (1) The acting is wildly heavy-handed. The stars are having great fun delivering their lines with excessive eye movement, frequent hand gestures, and off-key pacing. (2) The script deliberately lacks continuity and plausibility. Oftentimes lines are abruptly jarring and humorous because they have absolutely no relevance to previous plot elements. (3) Shots are frequently framed in off-balance angles, poking fun at genre excesses. (4) A pop-eyed Jeff Goldblum delivers complex and classically preposterous dialog in a winningly sarcastic manner.
The film has a guiding intelligence. It starts with a plot element stolen from the B-films of the 1930's and 40's: a secret code with a structure that would defy explanation by Carl Sagan.
The film's deliberately over-the-top acting is used mostly for comic effect during the first 90 minutes. Parker Posey's nicely choreographed fall from bed helps set a humorous tone near the start of the film. In an early running gag, Fay Grim's son Ned is so frequently told to leave that you can't help chuckling while feeling sorry for the lad.
The film's slow pacing does not enhance the comedy elements or the drama that later emerges. The impact if the film's concluding bloodbath is perhaps lessened by the movie's tone - that is, it is hard to be overly involved with the characters when the film is so heavily sarcastic and with continual confusion of who is on which side. The musical score is intentionally heavy handed, and I found this (and the off-kilter camera angles) more irritating than humorous.
The implausible and nearly incomprehensible plot of conspiracies/counter conspiracies, over-the-top acting, and slow pacing may grind on some viewers. The movie is much too long at 2 hours and 38 minutes.
That said, fans who are receptive to the film's sarcasm might want to watch again ... using closed captioning to best catch the deliberate and intelligent ridiculousness of the script. The film was too slow for me and the sarcasm felt more heavy-handed than light-hearted. But, the comedy may well appeal to your tastes.
The film is worth a view for those who enjoy independent films, fans of director Hal Hartley, or devotees of Parker Posey (who has the most camera time)."
OK....so it's not Henry Fool, but none the less....
Robert Johnson | Bend, OR, USA | 09/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To be frank, mostly what we get here is our best chance to see Parker being Parker that we have had in simply forever. I mean, tell me : How long have you been waiting ? Since Party Girl, perhaps ?
Well your wait is over. She is ever so beautiful, ever so well-dressed, and ever so over-the-top. If you are a Parker fan, then I promise you this will be way more than enough.
Plus we get to see the rest of the old "Fool" gang with some worthy additions. And ten years later, who would have ever thought, you know ??
And yes, the fact that now, for some strange reason it's become all about spies, the CIA, the KGB, and Islamic terrorists...that's a bit different for sure.
But if you are just looking for some great eye-candy, and have the sort of sense of humor that any true Parker fan has.....well....why would you want to miss this movie ? You can't quite follow the plot line ? So what ? That's probably part of the joke. You won't really care, believe me.
And don't forget......
"An honest man is always in trouble"
So...there you go, eh ?"
Not for everyone...
Mark Fradl | Austin, TX United States | 02/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever watched a movie and it just clicked? The movie wasn't perfect - in fact it was probably quite flawed - but it hit you at just the right time for it to resonate. It's a movie that you hesitate to recommend, it's a movie you can perfectly understand people hating, and yet for you it actually rose to the level of masterpiece. And even as you love it you realize that if you had seen it at a time when you were a little more distracted, or a little more impatient, or a little more tired, you would have probably hated it. Lost in Translation was such a film for me. So was Mother Night. And now i happily add Fay Grim to that list.
I should have hated it. It betrayed the quirky simplicity of Henry Fool by making the characters all part of some absurdly complex and far-reaching spy plot. It almost plays like a satire on Hollywood sensibilities: "How about if we make a simple film about a frustrated, misunderstood writer who inspires an unrealized poet?" "OK, as long as the writer ends up actually being an international spy wanted by the CIA!"
And yet, this film works. It works magnificently. Not really a sequel to Henry Fool, more like a riff on Henry Fool, like an interesting thought experiment in re-imagining an existing story in the most far-fetched way. But it works. The spy plot is Byzantine in it's complexity but if you're paying attention it remains logical and consistent. The character are - as in all Hal Hartley films - played in an overly theatrical manner, somewhere between kabuki and sketch comedy, and yet it works. The dialogue... the dialogue is classic Hartley, endlessly quotable, with fabulously intelligent lines dropping left and right.
I can't promise you'll like this, I can't even promise you'll stay awake. All I can say is if you liked Henry Fool and Amateur (and DEFINATELY start with those-- DO NOT make this your first Hartley film) then give this a shot. "