Prior to the release of "The Book of Henry", some people were calling it Oscar bait, but I knew something was up. I thought that the trailers looked strangely melodramatic and over-the-top. So when the bad reviews started coming out, I laughed, said "I told you so!", and cancelled my plans of seeing the movie. Well, I still ended up seeing it.
The writing is definitely very flawed. It is certainly melodramatic and over-the-top, especially towards the end. A lot of complaints also center around the drastic tonal shifts. To me, there was only one major tonal shift around the halfway point, but it was definitely drastic. A good comparison is the somewhat similarly-themed "Gifted", but about five times more extreme. It switches from very light to very dark in the course of a single scene. Still, I did find myself interested enough in the story that I was not appalled by this as many were. The dialogue has a few moments that are a little wonky, but I thought that there was some genuinely good character development. Despite the films narrative inconsistencies, I was still involved with the film because I was able to sympathize with the characters. There is only one scene that I thought was really jarring, and that was the scene in which Susan is enacting the plan as the talent show is going on, and the film crosscuts between the two. This was just an odd decision that had no reason and just made the film more confusing.
I actually thought that the film was pretty ably crafted. The mediocre script was given a fairly good cinematic treatment, but its merits were unfortunately overshadowed. The cinematography is actually really good. The acting is also solid, especially from Jaeden Lieberher and Jacob Tremblay. Tremblay in particular nails the emotional scenes. The opening credits are accompanied by animation, and while unnecessary, it is still well-done.
Overall, I don't think that "The Book of Henry" is a great film, but it was rather enjoyable, and I thought it was well-shot. Most critics are latching onto the fact that it is melodramatic and over-the-top, not realizing that there is a solid foundation in character development and cinematic techniques.
The Book of Henry
Big Tuna's Rating: C+
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Probably.
I am a huge movie fan that wants to tell people about my very varying taste and opinion of film.