Henry Poole is Here deals with that basic issue of faith. How is it that we can look at the same thing, and see something completely different from the person next to us? What does looking through the lens of faith do to our outlook? And why does faith seem to come so easily to some, and not others? Why are some people so afraid of it?
Henry Poole is Here is just a good, pretty clean movie with an ending that is slightly open to interpretation. Does Henry Poole find faith?
Here’s the skinny… this movie opens with Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) buying a house. He really wanted a different house on the same street, but the owners wouldn’t budge, so he takes the one that’s for sale. It has a spot where there’s a little damage to the stucco, and even though Henry says to leave it alone, the real estate agent has it repaired. Through periodic flashbacks, we see that Henry has been diagnosed with some sort of terminal disease. We never hear what or how long he’s supposed to have, but it sends him into a state of bitterness and anger.
Enter a neighbor who swears she sees the face of Jesus in the stucco repair job. Henry tries to wash it off, which only seems to make it worse. Next thing he knows, there is a shrine outside his house and lines of people flocking to it asking for miracles. Not exactly the kind of activity you want going on while you’re trying to wallow in self-pity and isolation.
In the middle of everything, Henry befriends a neighbor with a little girl who doesn’t talk. He’s afraid to get too close knowing his time is short, but can’t seem to stop. The little girl, Millie, sneaks out one night and touches the wall, which seems to restore her speech. Then the checkout girl from the local market touches it and no longer has to wear her EXTREMELY thick glasses. But it’s still not enough for Henry. He has no faith.
Next thing you know, testing shows no explanation for the face of Jesus that is still on the side of Henry’s house, and on top of that, the red substance it oozes is found to be blood. Henry finally can’t take it anymore! Sadly, I have to stop there to prevent ruining the ending for you…you’ll have to see it to find out what happens.
This is one of those movies that I watched with my hubby and expected him to hate because of the religious aspect of it, but it is my understanding that he really enjoyed it, so I’d say this isn’t just a flick for those of faith. In fact, those who find themselves questioning and searching may find this film even more fulfilling because they can identify with the search.
So, what reasons keep people from finding faith? Is it just that they aren’t convinced or don’t want to be? St. Augustine talked about how he knew the truth long before he was willing to give in to it. Henry is presented with a couple of miraculous events, but he keeps trying to reason them away. Maybe they were psychosomatic. Maybe their faith is what healed them more than an actual miraculous intervention. Maybe that’s what Jesus means when he tells the different people that their faith has healed them. For example, in the story of healing the hemorrhaging woman. She just touches Jesus and he tells her that her faith has healed her (Mark 5:21-43).
Another question for discussion is, “Do we find the neighbor, Esperanza, inspiring or annoying?” How often do we find ourselves in these type of confrontations in life? Do we stick to our guns or slink away to keep from causing hard feelings? What are you reactions to the priest? Does he strike you as trying to be a mediator, or luke warm? Do you think he believes in Esperanza?
If you haven’t checked this one out, you ought to try it… maybe you’re experience will be different, maybe not… but let me know what you think! God Bless!