The Book of Henry, directed by Colin Trevorrow, stars the fabulous Naomi Watts as Susan Carpenter, the mother of two beautiful boys, one who is exceptional and gifted, Henry age 11 played by Jaeden Leiberher, and Peter age 8 played by Jacob Tremblay. It is a family drama dripping with mystery and suspense but with a smattering of comedic touches.
In a nutshell, Henry has discovered a dark family secret that involves his friend/classmate Christina Sickleman played by Maddie Ziegler. His efforts to escalate the matter through legal avenues fail. He makes it his business to resolve the situation. On his dying bed, with little precious time left, he devises a plan to rescue her. When Peter gives his mom Henry’s book, she executes the plan to save his friend. Does she succeed or fail? Well, you are going to have to watch the film to find out.
The film conveys deep messages and poses an important existential question of confronting evil in the reality we live in set against the theme of unconditional love which runs as a motif throughout the film. Susan Carpenter’s unconditional love for her children is a marvelous thing to behold. Leiberher’s performance as a precocious teen is a hoot and joy to watch too. I loved the scene of him making stock trades on a public phone booth on the street while waiting for his mom to pick him and his younger brother up from school. There are many reasons to love this film not only for the meaningful messages that it conveys but for the acting, the compelling storyline, the cinematography, and the dialogue. It is such a visually appealing film. The magnificent aerial shots of the picturesque town are breathtaking. The juxtaposition of two families living side by side both headed by single parents but with diametrically opposing family dynamics. Watts is stupendous in her role as Susan Carpenter and gives a moving and riveting performance. The supporting cast is superb. There are some heavy duty scenes, so, don’t forget to bring some kleenex with you. Henry’s classroom presentation on ‘My Legacy’ is gripping, meaningful, and a tear jerker. The scene between the two brothers, Henry and Peter, in Henry’s hospital room is not only heartbreaking and wrenching but a beautiful piece of acting.
The film is beautifully cast, and the child actors are so wonderful in their performances. If you are a fan of Naomi Watts, you’ll love her in The Book of Henry. If you enjoy mysteries and/or family dramas, you’ll love it too. I loved it for the poignant themes it conveyed that transcend and cross cultures and affect us all. I highly recommend it for The Book of Henry is a beautiful and meaningful film on the philosophy of life!
Universal Pictures releases The Book of Henry on Friday, June 16, 2017