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The Book of Henry: Movie Review

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Jurassic World and Star Wars: Episode IX director, Colin Trevorrow, brings us a heartwarming drama. The Book of Henry stars Naomi Watts as Susan Carpenter, a struggling single mother, who discovers her oldest son’s plot to rescue the girl next door from her abusive stepfather.

Despite the thriller elements the premise has, the film had a lot of heart to it. I was surprised to find how quickly I became attached to the main cast of characters. Jaeden Lieberher’s portrayal of Henry is honest and charming. Henry is at the center of his family as he takes on the leadership role of the household due to his extraordinary intellect and desire to take care of his family in places that his mother doubts herself. Watts’s performance demonstrates the strong love that Susan has for her two sons despite how unworthy she feels to have them in her life. Jacob Tremblay plays the lovable youngest brother, Peter, who idolizes Henry. Tremblay charms the audience as he tries to live in the shadow of his brother.

The chemistry between these three actors was one of the best parts of the film. Henry is unafraid to prove his mother wrong multiple times which lead to their many banters. The relationship between Henry and Peter hit close to home for me as the oldest sister in my family. The affection that Henry shows for Peter is uplifting and reflects the way that Peter treats everyone he cares about.

Especially when he discovers that his neighbor, Christina played by Maddie Ziegler, is being abused by her stepfather played by Dean Norris. He then plots out an escape plan for Christina in his red notebook which Susan discovers.

I honestly don’t want to ruin the movie for those who want to see it, but I will say that I was surprised at the direction the film took with the characters. The trailer alone doesn’t prepare anyone for what happens. For the most part the plot was strong and flowed well with the story. The only issue I had with it was the antagonist.

Norris’s character, Glenn Sickleman, is portrayed as a highly regarded policeman with a clean reputation. He has ties with the local social worker and is virtually untouchable. Norris’s performance shows Glenn to be reserved and intimidating. However, the film doesn’t use that advantage to provide Susan and Henry a great obstacle to climb to save Christina. I feel that if Glenn had a more menacing presence then the film would’ve been stronger as a whole.

Hopefully this doesn’t ruin the movie, but the director makes the decision to keep Christina’s abuse off camera. The audience purely relies on Susan and Henry’s expression as they witness what happens through Christina’s bedroom window. There is also Ziegler’s performance to consider. She doesn’t have many lines in the film, but her distant expression and declining attitude is proof enough that the abuse is there. She does well in the film as this was her first acting role in a feature.

I didn’t know what to expect before I saw this movie. I barely saw the trailer before I walked into the theater, but I was pleasantly surprised. The film was warm, funny, and at times, dark. I highly recommend going to see the movie. It’s a breath of fresh air from the epic blockbusters coming out this summer.

The Book of Henry (2017)
Director:  Colin Trevorrow
Studio:  Focus
Genre:  Drama
MPAA:  PG
Release Date:  June 17th, 2017
Author:  Emily Casebolt
Emily Casebolt Born in Albuquerque and raised in San Diego, Emily Casebolt is a graduate of New Mexico State University with degree in Digital Filmmaking. She writes and plots stories any chance she gets from screenplays to novels. On her freetime, she watches hours of Netflix and reads countless books. She aspires to be a television writer for a one hour drama. 

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