Saw this tonight at Sundance and was torn between two notions: Notion 1: This is a classic Sundance movie. Starring Luke Wilson (now tell me that doesn't just ooze Sundanceness! Dialogue driven. No special effects. Low budget.
Notion 2: This is a real departure for Sundance. Gee, it seems to be religious, albeit in a weird sort of way. There are all these undertones of faith and hope and the priest doesn't come across as an idiot. When was the last time you saw that at Sundance? And I guess I agree with both. Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is depressed, and for good reason. So he buys a house to get away. But a perceived image of Christ in a stain on the side of his house soon attracts the attention of a neighbor, who quickly invades his life. And then there's his other neighbor, a cute little girl with an even cuter (and divorced) mom (Rhada Mitchell) and he can't seem to get any peace, although that's probably good for him.
This is a very deliberately-paced drama with an occasional laugh and more than a little tension. Wilson seems to enjoy his role, and the quiet, loner type fits well within his standard range. Mitchell (Melinda and Melinda, Mozart and the Whale) is wonderful and lovely, as always, and George Lopez takes a little role as a Catholic priest. But veteran Mexican actress Adriana Barraza steals the show as the deeply religious and well-intentioned neighbor, Esperanza (meaning "hope" in Spanish, which is only slightly more subtle than the grocery checkout girl whose name is Patience, or the Rhada Mitchell character named Dawn).
If you don't mind slow movies, Henry Poole will reward you with a story that celebrates simple virtues, and suggests that there is plenty of room in this world for kindness and charity and faith and hope. Not bad for Sundance.
Sundance Moment: This looks like the first thing screenwriter Albert Torres has done in movies, and he seemed thrilled to be at Sundance. And while Luke Wilson was very quiet, George Lopez was a clown. Lopez said he and Wilson became friends on the shoot and recently joined with Samuel L. Jackson to win a pro-am golf tournament.