Showcasing Hal Hartley's trademark style, this brilliant and odd film traces the story of Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), an aspiring writer and ex-convict, and Simon Grim (James Urbaniak), a sanitation worker whom Fool encourages to take up a pen. Though he has had no formal training, Grim is a natural poet. His first work—a Howl-like long poem—attains critical acclaim and public notoriety for its innovative language and controversial subject matter after it is posted on the newly-developed world wide web. The pressures of literary celebrity and the chaos Fool brings upon Grim's household—particularly upon Grim's sister, Fay, (Parker Posey) and mother (Maria Porter)—eventually cause Grim to choose self-imposed exile, while Fool watches his poetic aspirations dissolve amid the quotidian.
Hartley has always been a literary filmmaker—his characters are often avid readers and quote from the works they are reading and he presents some of the most eloquent dialogue written for the screen. Viewers who are not accustomed to the almost stoic performances Hartley inspires may need to see more than one of his films to appreciate his subtle direction, but anyone interested in poetry and poetic cinema should find inspiration in Henry Fool.
Written, directed, and produced by Hal Hartley (1997). Rated R.