Henry Fool

Critics Consensus

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89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 28

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,524
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Movie Info

Hal Hartley's best yet, about a self-deluding literary Pygmalion, a poetic savant, Queens and the rest of the world. A comic pageant of ironic gestures.

Cast

Thomas Jay Ryan
as Henry Fool
James Urbaniak
as Simon Grim
James Saito
as Mr. Deng
Miho Nikaido
as Gnoc Deng
Chuck Montgomery
as Angus James
Nicholas Hope
as Father Hawkes
Gene Riffini
as Officer Bunuel
Gene Ruffini
as Officer Bunuel
Chaylee Worrall
as Pearl (age 7)
Christy Carlson Romano
as Pearl (age 14)
Melanie Vesey
as Go-Go Dancer No. 1
Denise Morgan
as Go-Go Dancer No. 2
Jill Morely
as Afternoon Table Dancer
Marissa Chibas
as Newspaper Reporter
Julie Anderson
as Woman Outside Store
Reggie Harris
as Anchorman
Don Creech
as Owen Feer
Maraya Chase
as TV Reporter
Shoshana Ami
as Young Woman in Library
Karen DiConcetto
as Girl in Library No. 1
Tiffany Sampson
as Girl in Library No. 2
Rachel Miner
as Girl in Library No. 3
Paul Lazar
as Doctor
Valorie Hubbard
as Patty the Bartender
Paul Greco
as Concierge
Blake Willett
as Cop No. 1
Katreen Hardt
as Airline Ticket Clerk
Rebecca Nelson
as Flight Attendant Lucy
Paul Albe
as Angry Customer
Vivian Bang
as Teenager at World of Donuts
Brandon Boey
as Teenager at World of Donuts
Claire Ritchie
as Teenager at World of Donuts
Herbie Duarte
as Teenager at World of Donuts
Toy Connor
as Teenager at World of Donuts
View All

Critic Reviews for Henry Fool

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (3)

  • it is as philosophical, political and pornographic as Henry describes his own work to be - an expansive comic book 'novel of ideas' all at once provocative and funny, which will come to be regarded as Hartley's life work.

    Feb 19, 2018 | Full Review…
  • You watch, you are absorbed, and from scene to scene, Henry Fool seems to be adding up, but then your hand closes on air. I am left unsure of my response -- of any response.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Embracing Hartley's motifs, such as the vicissitudes of fame and fate, the film is sharply uneven, meditative and touching in moments but also pretentious and overlong; it's the last decent movie Hartley has made.

    Apr 30, 2006 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • Has some good acting and ideas, but Hartley doesn't seem to know how to end the thing.

    Jun 29, 2004 | Rating: 3/5
  • The complexities and weirdness of popular culture provide the backdrop for this black comedy about creativity, politics, publishing, and mentors.

    Mar 2, 2002 | Full Review…
  • In better sync with its content, but its story, too, of an individual living in a dumpster world trying to share what he knows and make it sing, is undeniably moving.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Henry Fool

  • Nov 18, 2013
    An unusual independent film with flawlessly differentiated bizarre characters dangerously approaching an existentialist state of mind, Hal Hartley appears in the cinematic media with a feature that refuses to be peculiar. On the contrary, it intentionally filters its target audience once the film has begun with no prior warning. What's the target audience, you ask? It is incredibly hard to say. I invite you, therefore, to draw a personality forecast. Simon is a garbageman that has a pretty much depressing and uneventful life, living with his sister and his mother, and vomiting (literally) on top of sluts' asses that seduce him while mocking him because he is nauseated at the sole concept of sex and suffering. These three people put together form a rather emotionally unstable and grim family to live with. One day, a supposedly talentless writer with a dubious and dark past appears, searching for a place to stay. Thanks to bizarre reasons, Simon agrees to shelter him with his family. It won't take so much time for Henry to spoil the family and turn things upside down... even for himself. While being a terrible influence for Simon's mother and Fay Grim, Simon Grim's sister, Henry awakes the "hidden literary and poetic potential" that was sleeping inside Harry for so long. After reading one of Simon's diary thoughts with a horribly constructed grammar, Henry's new goal is now to make something out of Simon's life. Why? Well, you'll be asking yourself what the hell is going on before you even think to ask yourself the motives of these alienated characters. Simon publishes his writings and becomes, indeed, a success; by a particular turn of events, now the tables for Henry and Simon are upside down, each one of them ending in the opposite places they were in the beginning. What's in the middle of the film? Fragments. Yes. Fragments of democracy criticism, literary conservatism, journalism, family chaos, unstable relationships, confessions and the money-driven mentality of publishers not looking beyond the money rather than new ideas (we have heard the same story about geniuses over and over again, until decades pass and they are finally recognized). I sincerely say that this was something I had never seen before. The aspects mentioned beforehand, along with the morally thought-prokoving ending (not an open ending really if you analyzed the characters closely) raised the rating close to a full 4-star score. Recommended. 75/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Feb 12, 2010
    This is a pretty strange movie. From the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival Collection. Henry is a Garbage Man who life is invaded by some pretty wild souls. A Mother who is depressed, a sister who gives it up to everyone. I am still trying to figure out the plot. Others have rated this movie 4 or 5 stars and beats me why. 2 1/2 stars is best I'll give this one.
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2007
    I enjoy this film as much as Fay Grim, I will check out more of Hartley's films.
    Marion R Super Reviewer
  • Jun 21, 2007
    I watched Faye Grim before seeing this movie. Now, as I watched this first movie, it was very hilarious and well written. Hal Hartley directed a fine piece here with great actors and worked with a great screenplay. It had me laughing out loud at some parts, and the story was great. Great comedy.
    Donna D Super Reviewer

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