The Book Of Henry


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Book Of Henry
"As an original idea from left field it lacks the courage of its convictions"

Mainstream movies are not good on weird. They tend to sugar up with additives usually involving a kid and a mom and a box of Kleenex. Why doesn't anyone learn from Donnie Darko?

There are two storylines here - alleged paedo activity next door and a sick boy's plan to eliminate it. They don't meet, these lines, they tangle.

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What's going on? Does grief create its own demons? Are those demons real or imaginary?

At the centre is Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts), a single mom having to deal with a genius son, Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), who is 11, and Peter (Jacob Tremblay), who is younger and more needy. Henry makes friends with the girl next door who is pretty and sad. Her stepdad is the police chief and after nights on the snoop with a pair of binocs, Henry comes to the conclusion that he is abusing her. There is no proof, only assumptions and suspicions.

Henry doesn't tell anyone but writes it all down in his book. He writes down what to do about it, too. In detail. With diagrams. And if that's not enough he records a step-by-step plan for Mom.

If the details are complex, dependent on luck and circumstance, the plan is simple - kill the bastard!

As a thriller the film loses credibility from the get go. As a tearjerker it wallows. As an original idea from left field - will someone please tells me what's so bad about right field? - it lacks the courage of its convictions.

There is potential here but somewhere down the line a decision was made to play safe.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2017
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With instructions from her genius son's carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.
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