Fay Grim ***1/2
Directed by Hal Hartley
Rated R for language and some sexuality.
"Fay Grim' is the ten year later sequel to an indie film called "Henry Fool." I just saw "Henry Fool" recently and found it to be "alright," but certainly not as good as everyone made it out to be. The saving grace there were the three main performances, Parker Posey, James Urbaniak, and Thomas Jay Ryan (who was Henry Fool himself.) Now there is "Fay Grim," which I found to be a better movie mainly because it doesn't take itself so seriously. "Fay Grim" is a massive and complex tale taking place ten years later where Fay Grim (Parker Posey) is scared that her fourteen year old son is going to turn into a person like Henry. Henry has been missing for years after accidentally killing a man, and escaped on a plane pretending to be the Nobel Prize winning poet Simon Grim (James Urbaniak). Simon is in prison currently. Fay is approached by Agent Fulbright (played by a hilarious Jeff Goldblum) who wants to know if Fay knew anything about the whereabouts of Henry's notebooks, which he dubbed his "Confessions." Simon thought they were a badly written story, but Fulbright believes that they are CIA codes and that Henry was a spy. Fay gets involved in this complex plot involving terrorists as she hunts for Henry to see him one more time.
The humor of "Fay Grim" mostly comes from the fact that you never know exactly what is going on, but the fun is watching the characters respond. "Henry Fool" had this pretentious feel to it, and some of it was gross and parts a little unwatchable (like the throw up scene earlier on). But "Fay Grim' does not take itself seriously, and it just becomes fun. The characters are somewhat different from what they were in the first film, but ten years is a long time and everybody does change in such a large gap of time. The war of terror satire is acceptable, even though it catches you off guard, and the lack of action considering this is an action movie is hilarious. Whenever there is an intense action scene the action is replaced by a series of still photographs. You have to love low budget cinema. The acting is on par with perfection. Parker Posey is almost in every scene and has this screen presence similar to that of Lucille Ball (and the screwball comedy element is here.) Urbaniak was good here once again, and Thomas Jay Ryan was perfect as Henry Fool himself, even though he only shows up for one scene (and its the films best scene.) "Fay Grim" is another one of those films that is coming out in the theatre and HDTV on Friday, and coming out on Tuesday on DVD. Unlike the other films that have followed this format (with the exception of "Bubble" and perhaps "Diggers") it is well worth scoping this one out. I thought it was a better film that the first, and you do not need to see "Henry Fool" to appreciate and enjoy this one. It might help for the back story, but that's it.