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Fay Grim

3.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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(May 22, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fay Grim (Parker Posey), a single mom from Woodside, Queens, is afraid her 14 year old son, Ned, will grow up to be like his father, Henry, who has been missing for seven years. Fay's brother Simon is serving ten years in prison for aiding in Henry's escape from the law. He has come to suspect that Henry was not the man he appeared to be. His suspicions are validated when the CIA asks Fay to travel to Paris to retrieve Henry's property. Her mission turns into a sprawling con-game, pitching Fay deep into a world of international espionage in this follow-up to Henry Fool.


Fay Grim is Hal Hartley's version of the espionage thriller. Consequently, it's more peculiar than pulse-pounding, but that's what makes his films appealing--to those who appreciate their off-kilter rhythms, that is. In Hartley's world, dialogue is often delivered with a straight face, no matter how funny the line or farcical the situation. In Fay Grim, he picks up seven years after Henry Fool left off, but this time the writer/director shifts focus from novelist Henry (Thomas Jay Ryan) to his seemingly scattered wife, Fay (Parker Posey). Their son, Ned (Liam Aiken), is now in his teens, but Henry remains at large, and Fay's "garbage man poet" brother, Simon (James Urbaniak), remains in prison for aiding in his escape. Then two CIA operatives, Fulbright (Jeff Goldblum) and Fogg (Leo Fitzpatrick), inform her that Henry is dead, so Fay agrees to track down his complete set of diaries in exchange for Simon's freedom. Apparently, Henry's incoherent ramblings contain state secrets. Joining forces with stewardess Bebe (Elina Löwensohn), Fay travels from Queens to Paris to Istanbul to fulfill her mission. In the end, Fay Grim resembles Hartley's noir parody Amateur, which featured Löwensohn, more than Henry Fool. It has less to say about talent and celebrity and more about mystery and intrigue. For the filmmaker, it also represents an opportunity to reunite a strong ensemble and to recover, at least for the time being, from a string of disappointments, like No Such Thing and The Girl From Monday. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Parker Posey, Jeff Goldblum, Liam Aiken, D.J. Mendel, Megan Gay
  • Directors: Hal Hartley
  • Writers: Hal Hartley
  • Producers: Hal Hartley, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente, Julien Berlan, Maren Wölk
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NY0YKO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,395 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fay Grim" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on June 9, 2007
Format: DVD
I'm one of those people who'd crawl a mile through broken glass to see a Hal Hartley film. From TRUST and IRIS to Henry Fool and (my Hartley favorite) No Such Thing, Hal's unique brand of movies are an acquired taste. Infusing equal parts mystery/espionage with wispy comedy seems to be his forte. The comedy isn't in your face necessarily, and often runs throughout an entire scene before coming to fruition. And that's the case with FAY GRIM, the sequel to Henry Fool.

Parker Posey stars as Fay Grim, abandoned wife of Henry Fool and mother to Henry's only son Ned. Fay lives a quiet life until she comes home one day to find a CIA agent in her kitchen. His name is Fulbright (Jeff Goldblum, Man of the Year) and he wants Henry's notebooks. There are many Henry Fool notebooks and they were all previously believed to contain nothing but mad wanderings. Apparently there's much more to them. Secrets weapons research or paths to terrorists? Who knows but Henry. Agent Fulbright tells Fay that her husband is dead but this is quickly surmised as a ruse to get Fay out of her home and searching for Henry (and it works ...but not the way they think).

Fay battles multiple spy rings to gather Henry's notebooks and to seek him out. She also makes a deal with the CIA to get her brother Simon (James Urbaniak) out of prison (he'd helped Henry escape the country in the original Henry Fool film.
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Format: DVD
Hal Hartley has in my opinion made several great films: AMATEUR, BOOK OF LIFE, SURVIVING DESIRE and HENRY FOOL are the best, unique deadpan comedies and dramas in love with language and human weakness, with moments of inspired poetry, verbal and visual. He is also an "art" filmmaker, making films that have never crossed over to a larger audience; his one "big budgeted" film, NO SUCH THING, is easily his worst, and in fact, since BOOK OF LIFE in 98, his work has been largely interesting without being wholly successful, as he has become more concerned with political and social issues than interpersonal ones; he has a tendency to be a little too on-the-nose on these topics, with both THING and GIRL FROM MONDAY tending towards self-righteous polemics that rail against too-obvious topics without much effect. MONDAY is much better than THING, but neither work as well as any of his earlier work.

FAY GRIM, a sequel to HENRY FOOL, is a large step back in the right direction; while more political than ever, he integrates it into his unique deadpan storytelling style much better than he has previously this decade, and offers moments of inspired lunacy and heart that haven't been seen since BOOK OF LIFE. GRIM is a bit overstuffed, and likely won't win many converts, but fans of Hartley's work in the 90s who have not forgotten his inimitable style and point of view will welcome this film, warts and all, which plays like a kind of very dry international thriller (don't go looking for any action scenes, as much of the violence that does occur plays out in freeze-frame sequences) mixed with the family/love story comedy found in FOOL.

It's nice to see Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows smoothly join the mix of usual Hartley regulars, though it'd be nice if Hartley and Martin Donovan could team up again. The DVD is widescreen anamorphic (shot on high definition video), with some reasonable extras.
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By anteKA on August 23, 2015
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
This is an intense drama, character driven, no blood and murder/shocks, just well written and well played drama, with an undercurrent of the humor of the human condition. More humor here than the first story that this follows, 'Henry Fool'. Parker Posey really shines in these two films. As 'One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest' was 'made' for Jack Nicholson, these two films were 'made' for Parker Posey.
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Format: DVD
This film marks a complete about-face from the first installment. Henry Fool was a thoughtful meditation on the power of art and the influence of a great teacher on an artist; at least, that's what I thought it was. Instead, we learn that the main thing was Henry's "Confessions," which are not the poorly-written ramblings of an egomaniac, but an encrypted guide to international terrorism and espionage. The CIA uses Fay's desire to find Henry again as a way to manipulate her into tracking him down and locating his œuvre, of which numerous counterfeits and translations exist, to the point that the "truth" may be impossible to determine.

Like Bill Murray in Man Who Knew Too Little, Fay lurches from one exotic locale to another, eluding disaster without entirely understanding the situtations she finds herself in. The plot is confused and frenetic, and Hartley overuses the cheap device of tilting the camera to the point of annoyance. Parker Posey turns in a great performance, along with Thomas Jay Ryan in a brief appearance. It's debatable whether seeing this is necessary to understanding the third installment in the series, Ned Rifle, and it could probably be skipped without undue confusion.
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