“The Book of Henry” Movie Review

Defying easy genre categorization, The Book of Henry is about a budding kid genius who’s smarter than his mom. Or is it a medical mystery? A TV movie-of-the-week melodrama? Or a Rear Window-styled thriller with an adolescent protagonist in the Jimmy Stewart role? Henry resembles all of those at times, resolving in a surprisingly satisfying way. 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Henry (Jaeden Leiberher) is a gifted student who looks out for his younger brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay), while helping to manage the family finances for his mom, a waitress. When the girl next door, Christina (Maddie Ziegler), shows signs of being abused, Henry tries his best to bring the situation to the attention of the authorities. There’s just one problem: Christina’s stepdad is the back-slapping chief of police who easily convinces everyone else in town that there’s nothing to Henry’s charges. As Henry’s mom follows Henry’s trail of clues about Christina’s situation, she becomes convinced that he wasn’t imaging things. But confronting Christina’s stepdad—and following Henry’s instructions—may put her and Peter in jeopardy.

What Works?

All the actors acquit themselves well, starting with Leiberher in the title role of Henry, but also Tremblay (the boy from Room) as Peter, and, especially, Naomi Watts as their mom, Susan, who slowly creates an empathetic, fully realized character.

What Doesn’t?

While the film pays off nicely, the early going is bumpy and feels all too predictable. A friendship between Susan and her waitress friend Sheila is underdeveloped. But stick with the film, which takes a surprising turn and leads to a well-executed finale that also feels predictable for a time—until it doesn’t.

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SOURCE: Crosswalk – Christian Hamaker

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