|Directed by||Hal Hartley|
|Produced by||Larry Meistrich
|Written by||Hal Hartley|
|Starring||Thomas Jay Ryan
|Music by||Hal Hartley|
|Editing by||Steve Hamilton|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Running time||137 minutes|
Henry Fool is a 1997 American seriocomic film written, produced and directed by Hal Hartley, featuring Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak, and Parker Posey. As in The Unbelievable Truth, an earlier Hartley film, expectation and reality again conflict.
Socially inept garbage-man Simon Grim is befriended by Henry Fool, a witty rogue and untalented novelist. Henry opens the world of literature to Simon, and inspires him to write "the great American poem". Simon struggles to get his work recognized, and it is often dismissed as pornographic tat, but Henry continues to push and inspire Simon to get the poem published.
Henry carries around a bundle of notebooks that he refers to as "His Confession," a work that details aspects of his mysterious past that he one day hopes to publish, when he and the world is ready for them. Henry's hedonistic antics cause all manner of turns in the lives of Simon's family, not least of which is impregnating Fay Grim (Simon's sister).
As Simon begins an ascent to the dizzying heights of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Henry sinks to a life of drinking in low-life bars as his own attempts at fame result in rejection, even by Simon's publisher who once employed Henry. The friends part ways and lose touch, until Henry’s criminal past catches up with him and he needs Simon’s help with fleeing the country.
- Thomas Jay Ryan as Henry Fool
- James Urbaniak as Simon Grim
- Parker Posey as Fay Grim
- Liam Aiken as Ned
- Maria Porter as Mary
- James Saito as Mr. Deng
- Kevin Corrigan as Warren
- Camille Paglia as herself
Based on 23 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics gave Henry Fool a positive review, with an average rating of 7.4/10. Leonard Maltin gives the film two and a half stars, saying Hartley "just misses the mark".