Heartland proudly announces the latest film to be designated as a Truly Moving Picture Award winner. Henry Poole Is Here, starring Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, Adriana Barraza and George Lopez, is in theaters August 15. When doctors give Henry Poole just months to live, he leaves a successful living and secludes himself in a house in the neighborhood where he grew up. His plans to live out his final days dejected and alone are interrupted, however, when a well-meaning but meddlesome neighbor sees a “devine” image in a water stain on the side of Henry’s house.
Where Poole shines is in the grace with which it handles what could easily be a touchy, off-putting subject. Nightly newscasters in towns across the country have covered something similar—a potato chip, a fallen tree, a dent in a car door that all look like the face of Jesus—and both cynics and believers come out to gawk. Henry himself is the film’s biggest cynic, damaged and confused in terms anyone with a history might recognize. It’s the measured pace at which he comes to accept the changes taking shape around him that set the perfect tone for this gem of a film.
His neighbor to the other side, Dawn, is perhaps the fulcrum on the see-saw of two extremes between a disillusioned Henry and the confidently faithful Esperanza. Her daughter is almost as emotionally damaged as Henry, and Dawn finds herself stuck somewhere between his skepticism and Esperanza’s piety, willing to try anything that might heal her little girl. The film’s most poignant moments come when Dawn finds the girl standing awe-struck by the stain.
Never once does Poole attempt to tell you what it is on this wall that affects people so significantly. There is no iron fist insisting on resolution; rather, a gentle hand makes it easy to see the film through the same glasses you were wearing when you came in. In the true fashion of well-made art, however, the film quietly reminds devout and cynic alike that it is the intangibles in life—hope, love, a human connection—that keep us waking up every morning to face another day.