My Review on The Book of Henry
Thank you Focus Features for inviting me to the Red Carpet Premiere of The Book of Henry. What an amazing night at Archlight Cinema Culver City which happened to be the opening night of LA Film Festival. What an honor to be at the Premier and to be part of The Book of Henry which kicked off LA Film Festival.
Here are some fun facts that I discovered during my interviews with the talent from The Book of Henry. This story has been in the making for over 18 years, yes, you read that right. The Book of Henry is Gregg Hurwitz’s masterpiece, he let me know that the manuscript was sitting in his drawer and every year he would update it. When he got married, had children, started other projects, et cetera, it grew with him. One scene, in particular, Jacob Tremblay character, Peter, is left in the bathtub alone in the original manuscript, however when Colin had his children he quickly realized you never leave a child quietly, unattended in a bathtub, so he added to the scene Peter reciting the states and their capitals out loud while his mom was downstairs. Madison Ziegler is gracing us once again with not only her beauty but her God-given talent as a dancer, she’s mesmerizing. Naomi Watts gives a stellar performance, what I love about Naomi, her facial expressions are captivating. Her range of emotions brings you in, you’re literally with her, at that very moment, you'll want to reach out and hug her. I couldn't imagine any other actress playing her role, she NAILED IT!
The Book of Henry is about a single mother Susan Carpenter works as a waitress alongside her feisty family friend Sheila. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own way is Susan's older son Henry. Protective of his brother and a tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother, Henry blazes through the days like a comet. When Susan discovers that the family next door harbors a dark secret, she's surprised to learn that Henry has devised a plan to help the young daughter. Now let me stop you here, they’ve done a wonderful job in omitting a crucial piece in the movie that will rip your heart out, be ready for the ugly cry, take a box of tissue.
Here’s the real synopsis, (STOP READING MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) Susan (Naomi Watts) is a diner waitress raising her two boys, Henry and Peter, in a Victorian home with the forest as their backyard. Henry is a genius, he does his mom’s taxes, all investments, and in each scene explains what he’s budgeting, where the money is and so on. Henry has a crush on the girl next door, who lives with her stepfather, Christina (Maddie Ziegler). Maddie is being abused by her stepfather Glenn (Dean Norris). Henry tries to alert the authorities, but experiences major setbacks, mostly in the form of a brain tumor that kills him….let that sink in. My cries were loud, ugly and thank you to my neighbor for giving me her tissues because I was one hot mess. Henry leaves behind a book for his mother with specific step-by-step instructions for how to murder Glenn with a sniper rifle from the window of the boys’ tree house, a super cool looking fortress. Susan flips through it and realizes her son has documented everything and much to her disappointment the city will not get involved because Glenn is a prominent figure in the police force. Driven by grief, wanting to do right by her son and always knowing that Henry was right, she is willing to follow through with his plans. However when the times comes she doesn’t pull the trigger but instead she realizes her son was just a child, not an adult. She steps out of the tree house and comes face to face with Glenn.
One of the greatest lines I’ve heard and that resonated with me, actually lite a fire within me, Naomi yelled at Glenn, “Look at me, now you know who you're up against.” This stopped me, throughout the movie Naomi was the mom that leaned on Henry, her young son for everything or her friend Sheila whom she’d drink with till she blacked out. Since she was the single mom no one took her seriously, she was glossed over but in that one moment she took her power back from the world and came into her own. Powerful, insightful and a force to be reckoned with.
The Book of Henry brought me to my knees, every single person's performance was phenomenal. To evoke all the feelings that I experienced within an hour and forty-five minutes, this movie MUST win an award. Go in knowing your heart will hurt but it shouldn’t be missed.