Fay is tossed into a political maelstrom, involving various intelligence agencies and sundry criminals, as Hal Hartley revisits the characters of the 1997 film, Henry Fool...

Fay Grim

on May 18, 2007 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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What on earth possessed Hal Hartley to revisit the characters of Henry Fool ? That 1997 movie was an overly dense but often prescient and dark drama about art, commerce and talent commingling in our celebrity-obsessed culture. Fay Grim is about much less, a failed comedy that takes obvious, ineffectual shots at our post-9 /11 world and what Hartley considers an overwrought U.S. response to worldwide terrorism, which he postulates said country had a hand in creating in the first place. But, rather than concentrating on his main protagonists from his previous film—Simon Grim (James Urbaniak), the garbage man-turned-acclaimed poet, and Henry Fool (Thomas James Ryan), the literary misanthrope who, in effect, created him— Fay Grim shifts its focus to Fay (Parker Posey), Henry's wife and Simon's sister. She was a nymphomaniac in the first film, but now it's her son (Liam Aiken) who is obsessed with sex. Fay's more concerned with keeping Simon's legacy alive now that he has been locked up for helping Henry commit a crime and escape the country. But, when a shady CIA agent (Jeff Goldblum) shows up, inquiring about Henry's confessional journals, which may contain state secrets, Fay is tossed into a political maelstrom, involving various intelligence agencies, sundry criminals and, somewhere in the background, the malevolent presence of Henry himself.

It's a complicated tale but also a simple one, with Fay mostly lurching from one frantic encounter to another a la Perils of Pauline without any real rhyme or reason save that she's in over her head in circumstances she can't begin to fathom. Neither can Hartley, it seems, as this is one tangled plot that doesn't make a whole lot of sense or come to any sort of satisfying resolution. Oddly enough, the talented Posey, in one of her bigger roles, gets to do less with it than usual, as she's simply a cog in Hartley's impersonal machine. The rest of the cast, such as Goldblum, is allowed to overact and be photographed in off-kilter angles. Fay Grim is not exactly a sequel but the law of diminishing returns applies to it just the same.
Distributor: Magnolia
Cast: Parker Posey, Jeff Goldblum, James Urbaniak, Saffron Burrows and Thomas Jay Ryan
Director/Screenwriter: Hal Hartley
Producers: Jason Kliot, Joane Vicente, Martin Hagemann, Mike S. Ryan and Hal Hartley
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R for language and some sexuality
Running time: 120 min.
Release date: May 18, 2007
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