The Book of Henry is a movie about a mother who sets out to murder her neighbor and kidnap his step daughter after her son's death, but it is also a heartwarming reminder that cynicism weighs us down and we should be doers, not dreamers.
00:00:00 The Book of Henry is a movie about a mother (Susan) who sets out to murder her neighbor (Glen) and kidnap his step daughter (Christina) after her son's death, but it is also a heartwarming reminder that cynicism weighs us down and we should be doers, not dreamers.
00:05:00 In "The Art of Storytelling," a YouTube video, Susan comes home to find her friend Sheila drunk, and Henry wakes up the next morning with a headache. He sees Christina next door and becomes suspicious, and the ominous music tells us something is up. The next day, Susan drives the kids to school, and Henry keeps looking at her. At the school, they have an argument about Christina being abused by Glen. Glen's brother, the head of CPS, investigates, but Henry finds out Glen is related to the doctor and decides to investigate on his own. Henry calls CPS and tells them Glen is abusing Christina, then he goes to the supermarket. At home, Susan is arguing with the book about money problems. Peter finds Henry's red notebook and learns that Henry has saved the family from poverty. Susan goes to the talent show and gets back just in time for Peter's performance. Christina learns her stepfather is dead, and the court gives custody to Susan. Susan burns all evidence of her crimes, and the movie ends with Susan tucking Enchilada number one and Butterfly number one into bed.
00:10:00 The protagonist of "The Book of Henry" is a genius 11-year-old who comes up with a plan to save his mother from being raped by an adult. However, his plan is flawed and he has to fix it.
00:15:00 Henry's plan to kill his abusive father Glen is simple: lure him out into the woods and shoot him. However, every contingency in the plan (e.g. Glen watching a movie) is not possible, and the plan falls apart when Glen does something unexpected.
00:25:00 In "The Art of Storytelling", filmmaker Charlie Kaufman discusses how stories always have consequences that skew in favor of the protagonist, Henry. Even in death bed arguments, where Susan suggests focusing on the finances, Henry's fear in the face of mortality is ultimately framed as Susan's weakness. Within the framework of the story, this is not Henry in denial, it's Henry trying to tie up loose ends before he dies. Despite her family being financially secure, Susan has no real ambitions and the family is doing fine. Susan's deal is that she's complacent; she's comfortable, safe, and financially secure. Christina is a textbook example of a prop character; she could be replaced by just about anything and the plot would still work. The plot to kill Glen is supposedly motivated by the desire to save Christina from abuse.
00:30:00 In "The Book of Henry," Christina is neglected and abused, but is eventually able to help save her stepfather from being arrested. The story suffers from a lack of focus, poor storytelling, and inconsistent character development.
00:35:00 The film argues that the death of Henry, a child and Jesus metaphor, taught Susan to be less apathetic and to reach out and help others. In the talent show, Peter performs a fake stunt that references Henry's death and the crowd goes wild. The scene suggests that Henry's spirit has descended upon the crowd and that he is physically present among them.