Review by Rob Carnevale
KEANU Reeves stars in and produces this amiable heist movie-cum-romantic drama that succeeds in spite of requiring a stretch of the imagination.
He plays the Henry of the title, a likeable if aimless toll booth operator who unwittingly becomes involved in a bank robbery and sent to prison for not giving up the real culprits.
Once inside, however, he meets Max (James Caan), a lifer and conman who suggests that since he’s doing the time he may as well get out and do the crime.
This flip comment does, however, give Henry an unexpected purpose in life and once he gets out he sets about putting together a plan to rob the bank with Max as an accomplice.
But matters become complicated when Henry has to land a job as leading man in a theatre production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Tree and promptly falls for leading lady Julie (Vera Farmiga).
Directed by Malcolm Venville (of 44 Inch Chest fame) Henry’s Crime wears it’s offbeat sensibilities on it’s sleeve but ensures that characters remains to the fore. Because of this, it succeeds as a genuine indie crowd pleaser.
Farmiga, in particular, excels as the feisty Julie, an actress desperate to escape her Buffalo surroundings but who ultimately lacks faith in her own ability and capacity to love.
Reeves is good too, demonstrating Henry’s progression from impassive everyman to someone increasingly more confident.
But Caan steals the show as the irrepressibly charming Max – an unlikely father figure to Henry who also gets a second chance at living through their relationship.
It’s these performances that help to compensate for some of the film’s shortcomings, including a somewhat leisurely pace and some unlikely plotting.
The heist element, for instance, could have benefited from a little more grit and tension to make proceedings tauter.
But then Henry’s Crime is, overall, a film about identity that still possesses a distinct and highly likeable one of it’s own. It comes recommended.
Running time: 110mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: June 6, 2011