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Fay Grim (2006)

tomatometer

45

Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 87
Fresh: 39 | Rotten: 48

Fay Grim is too concerned with its own farcical premise to present a coherent, involving story.

33

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 20

Fay Grim is too concerned with its own farcical premise to present a coherent, involving story.

audience

57

liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 22,723

My Rating

Movie Info

A single mother from Queens becomes unwittingly embroiled in international espionage in director Hal Hartley's sequel to the critically acclaimed Henry Fool. Fay Grim (Parker Posey) is determined to raise her 14-year-old son, Ned (Liam Aiken), so he won't be like his father, Henry (Thomas Jay Ryan), who disappeared seven years ago after accidentally murdering a vicious neighbor. As Fay's brother, Simon (James Urbaniak), serves time in a prison cell for aiding Henry in his daring escape, he

May 22, 2007

$61.8k

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All Critics (90) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (48) | DVD (5)

Movie sequels rarely work as well as literary serials, but the Henry and Fay movies have the ring of a satisfying trilogy in the making.

May 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The involved backstory and Hartley's own generic music both prove burdensome; the main attraction is the cast's amusing way of handling Hartley's mannerist dialogue and conceits.

May 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Recycling espionage-a-go-go conventions while namechecking global conflicts doesn't shed light on any state we're in; it just feels fatigued.

May 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite its imperfections, Fay Grim is worth seeing for Posey's and Goldblum's performances and particularly for the witty, literate dialogue.

May 18, 2007 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fay Grim makes giddy sense to a point, but Hartley seems trapped in a bubble of his own, failing to let us in on a joke that would be funnier if its punch line weren't so quirkily obscure.

May 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fay Grim is a farce in which people die and lives are ruined. Which is to say, it's peculiarly funny, but you have to be an existentialist with lightning-fast reflexes to get all the jokes.

May 18, 2007 Full Review Source: San Jose Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shows Hartley shrinking even as he goes global

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

Slyly, almost imperceptibly comedic, Fay Grim is indeed a film by Hal Hartley, who wrote, directed, edited and scored the film. But it's also Parker Posey's film

March 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Without a good quality story, all the eccentricity is just window dressing.

August 23, 2008 Full Review Source: ReelzChannel.com

Hartley pretzels his faux spy plot into "Syriana"-like knots and ends up with a fascinating if somewhat flawed absurdist romp.

May 5, 2008 Full Review Source: CinemaBlend.com
CinemaBlend.com

The nicest surprise of the movie is how long and how well Fay Grim works as a contemporary screwball comedy, a genre from which Hartley's diffuse yet severe sense of irony would seem to disbar him.

January 3, 2008 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Posey's fans will love her performance, even if they have a little trouble following the rather contrived adventure ... which is so talky, it's tiresome.

August 22, 2007
Looking Closer

FAY GRIM turns out to be something of a disappointment.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Murphy's Movie Reviews
Murphy's Movie Reviews

Luckily, there is Hartley's immense wit to carry it through, but wit can be a dangerous gift, especially when the capacity to be clever overwhelms all else.

July 10, 2007 Full Review Source: culturevulture.net
culturevulture.net

It's odd, endearing and weirdly funny for an hour, and after that it's a bit of a self-conscious mess.

June 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Overall, though, Fay Grim only occasionally connects with the viewer. It is a film so caught up in its own cleverness and cheekiness that -- despite the solid work by its cast -- it forgets to make you truly care about its characters.

June 22, 2007 Full Review Source: IGN Movies
IGN Movies

The story is deliberately perplexing, and while the logic of the serpentine narrative surely makes sense, Hartley is more concerned with the cadences and rhythms of the spy movie itself.

June 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

Nothing short of a comic feast.

June 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

"Fay Grim" is the most inarticulate and grueling of all Hal Hartley's films, and a complete waste of time.

June 7, 2007 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

A stunningly abysmal sequel to 1998's very interesting Henry Fool. Even the appealing Posey can do little to redeem this totally misguided, convoluted disaster.

June 3, 2007
FulvueDrive-in.com

In the end, it turns out to be an interesting film, but it takes forever to work up enough steam.

June 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders | Comment (1)
Entertainment Insiders

Oy Fay! Starts out a winner but takes a left turn in Europe and turns out pretty Grim.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: TheMovieChicks.com

Fay Grim is less concerned with the details of contemporary spy-craft and global deception than with broader moral questions.

May 30, 2007 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

Hartley has been on a spotty run; his last film to get a proper theatrical release in Portland was made nearly a decade ago. But he recovers nicely with this witty, crackpot comedy about love, espionage, trust and secrecy.

May 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

Audience Reviews for Fay Grim

Cast: Parker Posey, Jeff Goldblum, Saffron Burrows, D.J. Mendel, Liam Aiken, Jasmin Tabatabai, Chuck Montgomery, James Urbaniak, John Keogh, Claudia Michelsen

Director: Hal Hartley

Summary: When it's discovered that her deceased ex-husband's manuscript contains information that could threaten national security and implicate the government in a variety of conspiracies, Fay Grim (Parker Posey) is forced to travel to Paris and retrieve the book before it falls into the wrong hands. A follow-up to the critically acclaimed Henry Fool, this puzzling thriller from Hal Hartley also stars Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows.

My Thoughts: "It's an offbeat kind of film full of some odd, quirky characters. The story is OK and interesting enough to keep you watching, but it just wasn't anything special. Parker Posey, is what kept me watching this movie. She does a really great job in this film. I enjoyed Jeff Goldblum, in this as well. Thought him and Parker were quite funny in this. The acting in this film is a bit over the top, which makes the film seem even more silly. But I think it was the directors intention to have some of the scenes to come off that way. In the end, it was just an OK flick with some funny moments. If your a fan of Parker Posey, I would say have a go at this film."
August 7, 2010
LWOODS04
♥˩ƳИИ ƜѲѲƉƧ♥

Super Reviewer

[size=3]Fay Grim is a unique film, but it's ultimately not that engaging. I really wanted to love it, given that writer/ director [b]Hal Hartley[/b] is such an independent. But alas, it's only mildly enjoyable.[/size]

[size=3][img]http://blogs.indiewire.com/twhalliii/fgPoster.jpg[/img][/size]

[size=3]The film is a sequel to Hartley's earlier film Henry Fool, which I also saw and only moderately enjoyed. [b]Parker Posey[/b] plays Henry's wife. She has been abandoned by Henry, and she doesn't know what happened to him or where he went. [/size][size=3]She is contacted by the CIA, in the form of an agent played in deadpan comic fashion by Jeff Goldblum, and told that Henry was involved in espionage and may have been a traitor to the United States. To make a long story short, she ends up slipping off to Europe to find Henry and getting caught up in a set of interesting and funny double-crosses involving spies from about a dozen countries.[/size]

[size=3]Fay knows next to nothing about politics. She barely knows where these countries are, much less what all the political intrigue is about. It is quite funny to watch her try to figure out what's going on and learn to do such things as talk in code. [/size][size=3]Imagine Lucille Ball joining the CIA: that's what it's like to watch Parker Posey play Fay Grim. But the comedy is never over the top or very screwball. Posey keeps it under control.[/size]

[size=3]There's also a serious undercurrent to the film, which keeps the comedy in check. The audience is aware of the serious issues that are being talked about, even if Fay isn't. When the danger starts mounting, the film doesn't pull any punches. One of the delightful side characters is killed right before Fay's eyes, and there isn't a drop of humor in the scene. It's grim in a way that isn't the slightest bit ironic.[/size]

[size=3]A slight literary element infuses the film, but not so much that you could call the film seriously literary. Fay's brother is an avant-garde poet, and there are jokes about publishing and the state of letters in America that are quite funny. But Hartley only sprinkles the film with a literary touch.[/size]

[size=3]Despite a number of pleasant and intelligent elements and despite a very enjoyable performance from Parker Posey,, nothing in the film really sinks in very deeply. I forgot about the film about an hour after it was over. Nothing gets under your skin. Hartley just doesn't seem to take anything that seriously, and his comedy is rather mild. This film and this filmmaker represent a very minor footnote in cinema history.[/size]
June 9, 2007
Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Fay Grim" takes place seven years after Fay Grim's(Parker Posey) husband, Henry Fool, vanished after catching a flight to Sweden under an assumed name.(It's a long story, trust me. Or rather a long movie: "Henry Fool.") CIA Agents Fulbright(Jeff Goldblum) and Fogg(Leo Fitzpatrick) ask her if she has read any of Henry's journals which they believe could be a threat to national security. One notebook is in the possession of a publisher(Chuck Montgomery) who passes it along to Fay's brother Simon(James Urbaniak) who is in jail for helping Henry escape. Two more are in France and Fay agrees to retrieve them in exchange for Simon being released from prison, so he can home school her son, Ned(Liam Aiken), who has been expelled for a little underage fellatio...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Hal Hartley, "Fay Grim" is a convoluted mess of a movie with ill-defined characters. It's not that all of the necessary elements are not in place, just too many of them. To make matters worse, too much time and energy is given to trying to explain the MacGuffin. In the end, it is irrelevant whether the journals contain government secrets, the pornographic ravings of a madman or a great egg salad recipe. And whenever it feels like there is a coherent statement about the national security state on the horizon, the movie simply stumbles off into another brick wall.[/font]
February 6, 2008
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Well, all's I got to say about this movie is that it's a bit of a mess. I like stories where ordinary people are thrust into extraordinary situations, but this was just convoluted as all get out. The last half-hour was pretty good, but I spend the first two-thirds of the movie wondering what the hell was going on and why I should give a damn about Parker Posey's character.

Then I found out it was a sequel to something. Kind of wish I'd have know that BEFORE I rented it!!!
May 22, 2009
DuncanRR

Super Reviewer

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