Director – Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed)
Cast – Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler
Plot – Child genius Henry Carpenter (Lieberher), his mother Susan (Watts) and younger brother Peter (Tremblay) set out to save their young neighbour Christina (Ziegler) from her abusive step-father Glenn Sickleman (Norris).
“The one thing we do know, we’re here now. So I say we do the best we can”
Review by Eddie on 14/05/2018
Full points for trying something different in an age where movie-making is arguably suffering from a copycat and unoriginal creative phase, but The Book of Henry is such an odd and tonally misplaced experience that this critically derided event is a film deserving of its dud tagline.
Riding on a high after the indie darling Safety Not Guaranteed and then the box office behemoth Jurassic World, poor old director Colin Trevorrow lost a lot of his good will brownie points (and a gig directing the next episode of the Star Wars franchise) thanks to this utterly bonkers exercise.
Whatever you think The Book of Henry is, it probably isn’t, with this tale centred around Jaeden Lieberher’s child genius Henry, Naomi Watt’s as Henry’s Gears of War obsessed mother Susan and Room star Jacob Tremblay as Henry’s brother Peter never becoming the film you expect it to be and due to the nature of where Trevorrow’s film heads too, it makes it hard to talk about this tale without completely ruining what for some may be an emotionally poignant journey.
The films biggest problems outside of odd and misplaced tonal shifts and a misguided sense of emotion is that these characters Trevorrow brings to life alongside screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz are incredibly unlikeable, as well as being utterly unbelievable.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with what the actors in The Book of Henry bring to the table (although poor old Naomi Watts and Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris must be regretting their time on board this film) and their all capable performers but there’s no one here we grow to care about and everything’s delivered in such a poor fashion that we can’t help but not care.
For a film that ends up chasing emotionally response and meaning from such things as child abuse, cancer and bullying, The Book of Henry remains constantly unengaging throughout, always at arm’s length away from becoming the film it thought it might’ve become, Trevorrow’s film feeling like a self-assured piece from the director and perhaps the welcome wake up call to the filmmaker who before this lambasted bomb was having a dream run in the Hollywood machine.
Final say –
A film that many of whom were involved with would likely erase from their filmography given the chance, Trevorrow has aimed high and fallen spectacularly short with the charmless and cold The Book of Henry. An uneasy mix of thriller, family drama and whimsical oddity that needs to be seen to be believed but sadly for all the wrong reasons.
1 ½ a video game loving mum out of 5