Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Writer-director Hal Hartley returns to the characters from "Henry Fool," following Fay, a single mom from Queens who is afraid her 14 year old son will grow up to be like his father, Henry, who has been missing for years. (Magnolia Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. 83
    Plotwise, the film seems actually designed to repel logic, almost a parody of a spy film. But it's played with such verve and dash and confident flair that you'll have a grand time.
  2. 70
    A sophisticated, sometimes intentionally silly spy thriller of international intrigue, Fay Grim charts the history of American foreign policy while commenting on current global complications with wink and a nudge.
  3. Strikes me as something of an elaborate mistake, a wasted opportunity and a script Hartley should have discarded. But I liked it anyway.
  4. 58
    Sadly, there's a thin line between goofing irreverently on the maddeningly convoluted nature of spy thrillers and actually being a muddled mess, and Fay Grim crosses it constantly during its deadly second hour.
  5. 50
    Fay Grim is like watching stoners playing Risk and Clue at the same time.
  6. Too light-headed to qualify as satire, too poker-faced to register as comedy, Fay Grim belongs in its own stylistic niche: the Hal Hartley film.
  7. 40
    What happens, though, and what lures the film into disaster, is that Hartley lets slip his sense of humor (always his strongest asset) and begins to believe his own plot.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. RitterS.
    Sep 2, 2009
    Briefly, I also really like this film- or should I say I am one of the few it seems that did . The imbalance of the whole project (drama and/or farce,) appealed to me. But I recommended it to 3 people and they unanimously hated it. Hated. The acting is extraordinarily uneven but PP and GB are stellar, with good support from JU, LA and SB. I've added it to my watch once a year list. Collapse
  2. GL
    Sep 14, 2007
    This film got a bad wrap. Not as good as Henry Fool or the PowerBook, but nonetheless clever, witty, and visually fresh.
  3. ChadS.
    May 26, 2007
    "Fay Grim" is exhausting to follow, but so was "Syriana", which might be the filmmaker's point. Most films about espionage are to some degree ridiculous in its labyrinthian construction. "Fay Grim" is all about style, all about the psuedo-seriousness in the actors' line deliveries. But even if you relax and conceed that the film's nonsensical plot is a straight-faced spoof on the spy genre(so you don't bother trying to understand the plot), "Fay Grim" is still off-puttingly repetitive. Worst of all, when the story shifts to Pakistan, there doesn't seem to be a hint of the underlying absurdness that's prevalent in the film's other locations. Because "Fay Grim" gets serious, you wonder if closer attention should've been paid to the story elements that lead up to the scene between Henry Fool(Thomas Jay Ryan) and the Osama bin Laden-wanna-be. Even the action scenes are more convincing. The filmmaker had previously used a series of frozen stills to stage his first action set-piece, but by the end of "Fay Grim", it's hard to distinguish the difference between arch satire and the real thing when we see an explosion(which is supposed to be anathemia to independent film), and a character getting shot. Only Parker Posey as the titular character makes this pretentious film worth watching. Expand
  4. IanI.
    Dec 6, 2009
    LOL @ the camera angles. There was literally not a single level frame in the entire film...I can get artsy camera angle choices...but when the same 45% angle is repeated with every frame it stops being a creative choice and starts being annoying. Expand
  5. BrookE.
    May 23, 2007
    I'm a HH fan but this film was dreadful, from its convoluted plot to its incessant Dutch camera angles. I prayed for it to end, since I saw it with friends at Sundance and I couldn't walk out easily. Expand