film review- the book of henry (2017) [no spoilers]

hello friends!

A few days ago, I took myself to the cinema to see what I thought was going to be a light-hearted, feel-good teen film. I mean, that’s a reasonable expectation when Maddie Ziegler is on the promo posters. Needless to say, the film I was greeted with was not what I had signed myself up for; it was a full 1 hour and 45 minutes of intense plot twists and slightly offbeat emotion evokers.

I’m not including any spoilers in this review, in case you’re intrigued enough to go and see the movie. I will say that the trailer doesn’t prepare you for the film itself- it somehow (actually rather cleverly) omits the most major part of the plot. Personally I found this quite admirable; it’s essentially the opposite of clickbait, which is a risky move. Whether or not it paid off is debatable, but the intended effect is objectively decent.

The plot itself is, ahem, wild. It felt almost as if the writers had sat, giggling to themselves, and tossing a ‘wild plot twist’ dice every ten pages. While the components, separately, were engaging and generally well-acted, the whole film wasn’t particularly cohesive- there was far too much going on for the audience to feel the full emotional effects that the plot should have brought. Embarrassingly for Naomi Watts, the only truly stellar performance was from Jacob Tremblay, although this may be credited to his frankly unbelievable level of adorability.

Another issue I had was the, admittedly rather desperate, attempt to give the film a vintage/indie/hipster vibe by using a muted colour palette and at one point, a Polaroid camera. It gave the effect that someone on the team had watched Stranger Things and gone ‘hey. that looks pretty cool’, and whacked a similar (but inconsistent) aesthetic into their own film. It was basically just an unnecessary component, which felt just a little indulgent when you considered how crammed the film already was.

So the movie has a 23% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and I think this is mainly because critics were expecting better from Colin Trevorrow. While Jurassic World scored 72%, and Safety Not Guaranteed a massive 90%, this film will do him no favours regarding the hype around Star Wars Episode IX.

Overall, I have to say that I didn’t hate it. Maybe I even shed one or two (or ten minutes worth) of tears. I can definitely understand the criticism and its basis, but I think it’s a really interesting film to go and form an opinion on. I could write far more about each actor and their merits, the structure of the plot, even the score, but that would be frankly unnecessary, so I’ll leave it to you to go and see it.

Thank you for reading! If you’ve seen the film then feel free to let me know what you thought of it, because in all honesty my criticism is probably very mediocrely worded.

See you soon!

frankilily x

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