THE BOOK OF HENRY (NETFLIX) (2017)
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially in the small suburban town where the Carpenter family lives. Single suburban mother Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her younger son Peter (Jacob Tremblay) is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan’s older son Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), age 11. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother – and, through investments, of the family as a whole – Henry blazes through the days like a comet. Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry’s kind classmate Christina (Maddie Ziegler), has a dangerous secret – and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the center of it.
Rumours has it that it’s the failure of The Book of Henry at the box-office that caused director Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) to lose his job at directing the last Star Wars instalment. Whether it’s true or not, you should at first ignored the bad buzz surrounding The Book of Henry.
The least you know about the movie, the more you are going to enjoy it. The Book of Henry is basically a compilation of family drama, tearjerker and suspense thriller. And the reason why critics hated it is likely because it’s a movie that goes against conventional tropes.
Henry Carpenter (Jaden Martell from IT) is a precocious 11-year-old who helps to run the family finances and protecting his younger brother, Peter (currently Hollywood’s hottest young actor, Jacob Tremblay) from bullies during recess while their mother, Susan (Naomi Watts) works at the local diner and plays video games in her spare time. In short, Henry is the gifted, ideal son that every family hopes to have.
If this is not enough, Henry who suspects his next door neighbour and classmate, Christina is being sexually abused by her stepfather starts to alert the authorities about the case. Unfortunately, his appeals are largely ignored as Christina’s stepfather is the local police commissioner and an upstanding member of the community.
Now if we were to discuss theplotting further, it will definitely dampen your watching experience. You can’t deny though it defy traditional tones and plot development while at the same time, serves up a very interesting and dark journey the Carpenter family took to overcome grief and the message of making the world a better place which Henry emphasised.
The Book of Henry is a well-acted character driven drama that looks like an adaptation from a YA novel but apparently originally written for the screen by Gregg Hurwitz. It’s no doubt a bold move from Trevorrow and Hurwitz so stop complaining about Hollywood’s constant reliance on tried and tested formulas and go watch The Book of Henry today.
Review by Linus Tee