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Customer Review

on May 23, 2007
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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4.0 out of 5 stars
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