‘The Book of Henry’ is jarring exercise in narrative, tonal dissonance – California News

‘The Book of Henry’ is jarring exercise in narrative, tonal dissonance – California News

Set to direct the ninth “Star Wars” saga film, Colin Trevorrow has had a notably varied track record, from the entirely underwhelming “Jurassic World” to the absolute charmer “Safety Not Guaranteed.” Cinephiles are eager to know if Trevorrow’s latest, “The Book of Henry,” can serve as a litmus test for his entry in the galaxy from far, far away.

Unfortunately, “The Book of Henry” doesn’t offer a straightforward answer, and like “Jurassic World” before it, this film is a mixed bag — an idiom that should be taken literally.

One wonders if Trevorrow and screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz were challenged to randomly select three films from a bag — filled with films as varied as “Rashomon,” “Memento” and “Minions” — and to make a film drawing on all three for inspiration. Luckily, “The Book of Henry” is not a mashup between “Rashomon,” “Memento” and “Minions,” but it’s as narratively and tonally dissonant as such a hybrid would be. To reveal which three films were hypothetically drawn out of the bag would be a spoiler — so similar is this film to those unnamed three.

That fact cripples any attempt to describe the film’s plot, but it goes as follows: Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is a child genius who lives with his younger brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay) and mother, Susan (Naomi Watts). Henry’s life changes when he begins devoting himself to helping his neighbor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler) escape her abusive stepfather (Dean Norris).

There are two nexus points in “The Book of Henry” when the film transforms into wildly different stories. As a result, each of…

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