How many times do we watch an injustice happen to a compete stranger or even a next door neighbor and run a blind eye? Better yet, what if a loved one passes on and has a final wish they are insistent be carried out…would you do it?
My Uncle had been missing for three years and one of my elder relative’s final wish was to find him. Well, when we finally did, as fate would have it he would die by very suspicious circumstances just a few months later. Did I want to harm the person who I felt was responsible for his demise…unequivocably YES!!! Would that bring him back or make me feel better…NO.
This is the dilemma Susan (Naomi Watts) finds herself in as the plot of The Book of Henry unfolds. The Carpenter family lives in a town where everyone knows everyone and where Susan Carpenter (Naomi Watts) works as a diner waitress, alongside her feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her eldest , 11 year-old Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is more of a protector to his adoring younger brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay) and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother. Eventually, Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry’s classmate Christina (Maddie Ziegler), has a dangerous secret. With a red notebook and very careful planning Henry has devised surprising method to assist his dear friend. A plan that is his final wish to be carried out by Susan. As she finds herself at the center of this thrilling caper, no one could have possibly predicted the outcome.
As a mother, Naomi Watts has tapped into Susan in a way that I believe no other actress could have pulled off. Her childlike vulnerability mixed with the command of an adult is complex, compelling and heartwarming. If you thought Jacob Tremblay was spectacular in Room, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. This young man has a depth of emotion that even the most secure person would have issues tapping into. But, for Jacob, it’s as easy as running water. However Jaeden Lieberher in the title role is mind-blowing and I look forward to seeing his name mention many times in the upcoming award season. As Henry , Jaeden gives Henry the gift of common sense, empathy and sympathy in a manner that is unparalleled.
Last, but certainly not least. I’m really hoping that Sarah Silverman gets some love for her performance. She gives Sheila a very complicated back-story that is completely real, interesting and captivating…as is she.
Coming off of films like Jurassic World and Stars Wars, Colin Treverrow proves that he is more than capable of handing a genre that is not CG driven. As a father, he has surely tapped into those emotions to make The Book of Henry resonate with audiences.
As the kick-off film of the LA Film Festival, The Book of Henry opens in limited release June 16. Bring your hanky…you’re definitely gonna need it.