Wednesday, January 10, 2007
It has been ten years since Hal Hartley released his masterpiece Henry Fool. It has been a film that has stayed with me this past decade and I haven't let one of those ten years slip by without watching it. It's the work of an artist catching up and, ultimately, passing himself. It's a work, of great feeling and human longing, made by a man who might not have realized what he was capable of.
The characters of Henry, Simon and his sister Fay have remained in my thoughts through these years. Henry Fool's ambiguous ending have made them all the more vivid in my imagination. I could create their outcomes and they could go on living just in my mind, until now.
When it was announced last year that Hal Hartley was to make a sequel to Henry Fool centered around the character Fay Grim my initial reaction was one of excitement. After all since Henry Fool Hartley has been struggling. He has only managed two full length films since, No Such Thing and The Girl From Monday, both are flawed and were barely noticed. His best work since Henry Fool was a shot on digital hour long film concerning the second coming entitled The Book Of Life. Like many great past directors and artists Hartley has seemed unable to follow up his greatest work with anything truly substantial.
My initial feelings of excitement have of late began to switch into doubt and fear. I won't judge Fay Grim before I see it but it doesn't feel like the film Hartley should have made. I hope I am wrong, I hope the film turns out to be an honorable attempt at following, what I consider, one of the great American films.
The main thing, without doubt, the new film will have going for it is Parker Posey returning as Fay Grim. It will be a rare leading role for one of our finest actresses and she will be getting the chance to reprise one of her greatest characters. I have no doubt she will bring everything she can. James Urbaniak is returning as the garbageman turned poet Simon and rumor has it that Thomas Jay Ryan will return as the mysterious Henry Fool for one scene.
Each year American cinema seems to get a little more hollow, Hal Hartley's Henry Fool was one of the final reminders of its capabilities to transcend and inspire. Fay Grim will be released and it'll be great or it won't. Several of my heroes have been setting things right lately and while it may be true that Hal Hartley was never one of my heroes; his foolish, man out of time character Henry Fool is. Let's hope he's not let down.