THE BOOK OF HENRY
hopscotchee: lee pace score: 63.5 rating: PG-13 time: 105 minutes
okay. the book of henry is kind of a soupy emotions exude-er, but it does come with animal crackers. on the sweet side, the visuals and acting up-level this movie from your typical drama/thriller instantly, however, big warning. the story's unexpected turn of events are likely to leave you hecka sadder than the trailer teases you to, ending on a bittersweet note. nevertheless, even from two different perspectives ourselves, we can say that this movie is a great suspense leader with earnest morals, but, more importantly, a perfect watch to witness amazing, young talent.
coming off of captain marvel, this movie evidently shifts to a more serious note, immediately seen with (spoiler) henry's opening speech about a person's legacy. right there and - bam!! the flare guns are set off, signaling to the viewer that this movie's going to have depth and insight that, rather than being an intense action film, foreshadows the feels for an intense, emotional drama. cleverly so, this switch is brilliantly embedded through the juxtaposition between henry's unnatural maturity for an eleven year old and susan's laid-back attitude as a parent. this unconventionally gives the grave action an off balanced sense of sincerity and playfulness, making the plot feel weirdly genuine and unique.
the opening scene is also a fantastic introduction to the cast. if you have been following our hopscotch and have seen knives out and aloha, you will know that this is just jaeden martell doing what jaeden martell does best, being the freakin' fabby (fabulous) actor he is. especially for being so young, he takes on the weight and responsibility of the role of henry with such graceful sophistication. although, (spoiler) we wished that he was in the movie longer (like, why did you have to go ned stark him??), we enjoyed the additional screen time that it gave to his fellow young and amazing co-star, jacob trembly. like, can we just say, (spoiler) his frightened scream at night followed by the crying in the hospital - ahh!! that stuff's guttin'!! sears. it's definitely worth the rewind that we gave it. anyway, they both deserve claps for their performances (*clap, clap, clap*).
however, likewise, adding to the powerful performance, the cinematography hooks the audience along with its variety of colors and lighting gradients, diversifying each shot and keeping you interested through the course of the film. the contrast from the beginning bright and colorful scenes to the dim and darker toned night shots at the end drew you in as the plot's threats escalated. another thing that the cinematography did well was perfectly playing hand-and-hand with the setting and seasons of the film. as the plot's weariness began to enfold in the fall, the cinematographers beautifully ran the two parallel, connecting the comfort and closeness that the season brings to the togetherness of the carpenter family, while, also, capturing the uneasiness of christina's conflict to the uncertainty of the leaves changing.
now, with that said, though these elements definitely gave something for the viewer to be interested in, the pace of the plot left the story feeling quite dissatisfying and anticlimactic. even though this movie advertised itself with a suspenseful plot, it had more of a character development storyline at heart. where it may have seemed like (spoiler) henry's mission to help christina was the main focus of the film, it actually revolved closer around susan as she processed her grief. and though, yes, you are relieved that (spoiler) she didn't end up committing a crime to be closer to her departed son, the result felt incomplete, since the movie had been hyping up this mission in its entirety. especially for its tagline: 'never leave things undone'.
ladling it all in, the book of henry had some good ingredients, but it also had some not so great ones. its definitely a thinker, so if you are up for big, moral questions, this is a main dish adventure, but if you are just looking for a fun, family watch, this is more of a side serving. though, apart from the story's sad twist, this movie's tender core, will still warm you, like any good soup.
-- thanks, lee xo