Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hal Hartley - Fay Grim (2006)

Reading up on this before I saw it, I had some mixed feelings about this one. It's a sequel and a retcon to Henry Fool. I was weary that it would be ruin Hemry Fool by straying so far from the initial genre as this film is nothing like its precursor despite revolving around the same characters. It's an espionage thriller, where as Henry Fool was simply a drama about friendship between two unlikely men. Seven years have passed since the events in Henry Fool, and this time around the film is centered on Fay Grim, played by the absolutely stunningly gorgeous Parker Posey. Posey's austere acting syncs with the suspenseful tone of the film as does the rest of the casts'. A CIA agent, played by Jeff Goldblum coerces her to try and track down the notebooks of Fool's "confessions" which, retconning largely on Henry Fool, are actually encoded documents that could endanger the United States security. The sequel sheds a lot of light on Henry's background and gives his character a very interesting history.

In exchange for Simon Grim's release from prison Fay becomes bait for Goldblum's character and ends up traveling to Paris where she finds herself in the middle of an international conspiracy with government spies for several countries on the hunt for Henry's notebooks as well endangering her life and leaving her not knowing who to trust. She eventually ends up with all of the books and heads to Istanbul to find Henry once she finds out he is alive and his whereabouts. I'm not going to go into further plot details because I don't want to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it, but I'll say that it ends like a Hal Hartley film and I was left wanting more, but in a good way. So my initial worries about the film were set to rest, and Hartley manages to pull off an unexpected genre twist with this sequel. It works, and is an engaging, suspenseful film throughout, proving that Hartley is a director who can take big chances and follow through with the execution. If you haven't seen this, watch Henry Fool first, and this afterward; they're both unique films with great character development, smart dialogue (especially Henry's in both films, even if he only has a small part in Fay Grim) and unconventional plots that manage to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

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