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Film / Henry Poole Is Here

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It's just a stain...

A 2008 dramedy film directed by Mark Pellington, telling the story of a man's struggles with a stain on his stucco wall. It's better than it sounds.

Henry Poole (Luke Wilson) is the man, who's moved into a small California neighborhood and bought a house. When the aforementioned stain is recognized by his neighbor as resembling Jesus, he finds himself subjected to pilgrims, a church investigation, and burning questions on the meaning of life and the futility of worrying about things you can't change.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Christianity Is Catholic: Borderline case. Almost all imagery is of the Catholic variety, but California does have a large Catholic community, and Catholics are more known for their miracles.
  • Cute Mute: Millie hasn't talked for over a year, ever since her father left them. The visage on the wall apparently heals her. When she learns that Henry is going to die soon, she relapses and only talks again after she learns that Henry isn't going anywhere.
  • Disappeared Dad: Dawn tells Henry that Millie's father left a year beforehand, which is when she stopped speaking. We don't hear anything else about him. Over the course of the movie, it's clear Henry takes on a fatherly role to her.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Henry definitely has to work at it, including accepting that he may need help, and may be worthy of being saved.
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  • Hollywood Atheist: Henry is this. Though he may have had a start with his bad childhood, learning he is dying of an incurable illness sure kicks his belief. That is, until the end.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Does the wall grant miracles? In almost every case, the results could be explained away.
  • Parental Issues: Henry explains to Esperanza at one point about how his parents fought constantly and the overpass that he revisits from his youth is one of the few places he felt safe and happy.
  • Parental Substitute: Subtle but there are a few in the movie. Henry begins to take on a fatherly role towards Millie the more time he spends with her and Dawn and Esperanza seems to take more care in Henry's well-being than necessary especially when she is the one he wakes up to at the hospital after destroying the wall.
  • She's Got Legs: Radha Mitchell is mostly in dresses throughout the movie that very well demonstrate this.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Henry suffers from a poorly explained and rare disease which is nonetheless known to be fatal within a few months. And there are apparently no symptoms until the virus "steamrolls through your system" and you die.
  • Title Drop: On the underpass and within his house, "Henry Poole was Here" was what Henry wrote to try to convince himself that he's worthy of existence despite his ugly family past. After he learns his disease was cured (or incorrectly diagnosed), he changes it to "Henry Poole is Here".

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