Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 22
  2. Negative: 1 out of 22
  1. Henry Fool is far and away writer-director Hal Hartley's best movie.
  2. Resonant examination of friendship, fame, cultural trends, and the creative process.
  3. The result is a career milestone [for Hal Hartley] and a film that could become a landmark in American independent cinema.
  4. This film aspires to be a meditation on (among other things) art, trust, loyalty, politics and popular culture. With utter simplicity, and with unexpectedly intense storytelling, it achieves all that and more.
  5. Movies about literary lives don't always catch fire, but Henry Fool is a glorious exception: an austerely funny, brilliantly written and acted serio-comic tale of two writers. [17 Jul 1998]
  6. 88
    This film is the complete package, and offers a thoroughly satisfying two-plus hours in a darkened theater.
  7. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    80
    [Hartley] has turned out a film that is the same as his impressive back catalogue - quirky talk-driven curiosities about people living on the fringes of society - yet somehow different, managing to imbue his usual obsessions with the freshness and vitality of a first-time director.
  8. Reviewed by: Malcolm Jones Jr.
    80
    The only thing you can count on in this exhilarating movie is that nothing is what it seems. Even the borough of Queens looks beautiful.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    80
    It is pristinely acted; and its range and heart dwarf other summer films, so cogent is it about our common aches and dreams.
  10. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    Poetic, bawdy, contemplative, often side-wrenchingly funny and finally quite touching, this tale about a nerdy garbage man whose life is changed by an egocentric hobo philosopher is flawed only by its length.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Colton
    80
    It remains complex, offbeat and occasionally inscrutable - and worth the work. [24 Jul 1998]
  12. With Henry Fool, however, Hartley has made his most dynamic and accomplished film to date.
  13. Hal Hartley's latest film, an odd and mentally stimulating black comedy that may or may not have a point. In any case, the ride is delectably weird and entertaining. [17 Jul 1998]
  14. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    70
    Unfolding and sounding like a novel, Hartley's ensemble of lower-class losers clash and repel in a startlingly, unpreachy lesson about the importance and danger of influences.
  15. Henry Fool, the fascinating and often infuriating new film from the idiosyncratic Hal Hartley. [24 Jul 1998]
  16. What eventually emerges isn't nearly as achieved or convincing as the neighborhood portrait, but even when it ultimately overwhelms the characters, it's full of juice, humor, and nuance.
  17. 63
    You watch, you are absorbed, and from scene to scene, Henry Fool seems to be adding up, but then your hand closes on air. I am left unsure of my response - of any response.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    63
    Ryan has a wonderful way with Hartley's often difficult dialogue, and is engaging even when the rest of the film is not
  19. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    63
    Writing ignites miracles in Henry Fool, and Hartley's exquisite control over his compositions and pacing makes the outrages, biological and otherwise, funnier than you might believe. [01 Jul 1998]
  20. Henry Fool finds Hartley assimilating Godard's ideas with far more assurance than in previous pictures like "Amateur" and "Flirt."
  21. 40
    Henry Fool, which runs a leisurely and ultimately tiresome 138 minutes, is so self-conscious it feels uncomfortable in its own skin. [23 Jun 1998]
  22. I found it insufferably fatuous and damned near interminable. [26 Jun 1998]

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