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USA, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Hal Hartley

Henry Fool is a self-styled Intellectual whose proclamations ring with both truth and falsity. His arrival info the lives of a dysfunctional family signifies the beginning of delicate yet profound change. Simon Grim is a quiet, unassuming garbage-man supporting his clinically depressed mother and his bored, libidinous sister, Fay. Henry brings out the best in Simon's poetry, which eventually makes Simon a world-famous commodity and tests the relationship between the inspiring and the inspired.

More than any other Hal Hartley film, Henry Fool triumphs through its love of words. The dialogue does not so much mimic other Hartley films as build on what already works so well. In his first screen role, Canadian-born Thomas Jay Ryan as Henry brings a refreshing pace to the script. As Fay, the razor-sharp sister, Parker Posey (last seen in MIFF 97 comedy hit Waiting for Guffman) is a constant delight. The boldness of Hartley's script was recognised at Cannes this year, where it was awarded Best Screenplay.

"I wanted to do a story about my culture. I wanted to create a broad but meaningful sketch of our culture and some of its current preoccupations, to leave a fossil of a particular time and place in America." - Hal Hartley

"Hartley has come back with a picture that, while still championing life's losers and everyday Joes, reaches out further than any of his movies to date, wrapping barbed observations on everything from politics to publishing... Though Hartley, as always, knows exactly where to place the camera... it's the dialogue that powers the movie... Henry Fool is Hartley at his funniest and most left-field." - Variety

Hal Hartley studied art at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and filmmaking at the State University of New York. His long list of award-winning feature films, many of which have been screened at MIFF, include The Unbelievable Truth (1989), Trust (1990), Simple Men (1992), Amateur (1994) and Flirt (1995).

See also...


After The Unbelievable Truth became one of the sleeper hits of last year, director Hal Hartley is back with another biting, provocative comedy of suburban middle America. With Trust Hal Hartley ... More »


“You're a good woman, Fay. Someday when all this is over and we have destroyed Western civilization... ” Ten years have passed since Henry Fool. With Fay Grim, filmmaker Hal Hartley reunites us ... More »


Tude (Martin Donovan) is an over-educated literature professor, totally oblivious to the bored students pelting him with books. He is obsessed with a single passage from Dostoevsky's The Brothers ... More »

The Theory of Achievement

Everybody on the block wants to be famous, don't they? ... A new short from the director of The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. ... More »


Hal Hartley's feature debut takes us back to his native Long Island, where the lovely, 17-year-old Audry Hugo, a nuclearphobic high school senior falls madly in love with a perfectly chiselled auto ... More »


... ... Deadpan, fiercely cynical and extremely funny, Hal Hartley has cemented his reputa­tion as the US independent requiring the closest of scrutiny. This curious director creates a ... More »

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