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  • 3.5 out of 5

The Book of Henry: a spoiler-free review

It's been a while since a trailer threw me completely. The intent of a trailer is to entice the viewer in to seeing the film, to tickle your curiosity. The trailer for The Book of Henry did this admirably. Like a magician's sleight of hand, it provided misdirection too. Having seen the film, I left thinking that that was not what the trailer implied. Hats off to editor, Kevin Stitt.

The plot synopsis on, written by the distributors, Focus Features lays out the plot without spoilers:

Sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially in the small suburban town where the Carpenter family lives. Single suburban mother Susan Carpenter (played by Naoimi Watts) works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Her younger son Peter (Jacob Tremblay, who we last saw in Room) is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan's older son Henry (Jaden Lieberher), age 11. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother - and, through investments, of the family as a whole - Henry blazes through the days like a comet. Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry's kind classmate Christina, has a dangerous secret - and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the centre of it.

This is Colin Trevorrow's second feature and he has crafted a warm, charming, sometimes despair-filled film that ultimately brings a message of hope. Good triumphs over evil in the end, as it should in most films.

Critics have been very harsh in their reviews. Some decry being emotionally manipulated! Is that not the whole point of going to see a film? Audience reactions are more favourable.

My reaction? I cried. Twice.

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