Henry is 11 and a genius. He lives with his mother Susan and his younger brother Peter in a leafy suburb. Aside from setting his family up for life via the stock market he is concerned that apathy is worse than violence and people should do more to help others. When he suspects his classmate and neighbour Christina is in trouble he documents how his mother can help her in a book.
Directed by Colin Trevorrow this little indie film is sandwiched between Jurassic World (currently the 4th highest grossing film of all time) and Star Wars Episode IX on his directorial slate. It is also only the 3rd film he has ever made, with another indie feature called Safety Not Guaranteed his debut. And it is fair to say that this film has taken a critical mauling, one that I do not think it deserves. It is by no means a perfect film and it is incredibly strange in terms of where the plot goes, but as films go it’s fine with more than a dash of peculiar!
The opening half is a very standard precocious child film. Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) behaves like an adult and virtually runs the household. Susan (Naomi Watts) is a slightly wayward mother who plays video games (no, her controller movements bear no resemblance to the game she is playing as per every film to portray gaming). Peter (Jacob Tremblay) idolises his brother whilst living in his shadow. But then tragedy strikes and the film moves into surreal and dark territory, totally at odds with the tone of everything that has gone before. It’s a brave idea, but it’s not completely convincing and I struggle to find an underlying point to the story other than its surrealness.
It is undeniably intriguing though. And if Trevorrow wants to make indie curiosities in between tent poles then why not?