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This film has a good storyline but it's way too chatty and it comes off very fuzzy.
The third, and possibly final entry, in the "Henry Fool" trilogy by Writer/Director Hal Hartley is quite likely the most straightforward and least strange of the three. It doesn't veer off into strange tangents like the first film, and it doesn't become a stylized international thriller for some reason like the second film...it's just a straightforward plot involving Henry and Fay's son Ned, as he exits the witness protection program and heads off to kill his father, reluctantly allowing a young woman to join him (who turns out to be the girl that Henry mentioned he spent time in jail for having sex with her when she was 13). It is a solid ending for this odd little series, it feels much more in line stylistically and tonally with the first film...but it is still very much it's own thing. I liked this weird series, a very strange series of films to be sure.
The movie itself was alright. The problems I have are the music and the acting. The music sounded like a Native American documentary, not a drama. The acting was really really robotic. I'm not used to Aubrey Plaza being so scripted and robotic. I recommend watching just so that you can wonder "what did I just watch..." because that is how I felt. Maybe it would've been a 3 and a half if the music was better, and a 4 if the actors used more contractions and looked a bit more like they knew what they were saying.
A nearly perfect and hilarious conclusion to the Henry Fool trilogy, and once again, we have a dame well worth just a look into this film which lies in Aubrey Plaza, who steals every scene she's in as usual in everything she's in. The writing by Hartley is brilliant as usual by this man.
The movie should resonate for fans, as it's filled to the brim with Hartley's signature dry and carefully crafted dialogue.
Feels like a "higher quality" The Room in some ways. I'm a big fan of Aubrey Plaza and was a bit surprised to be seeing her bum. Oh, but the film itself? Low budget, some witty dialogue, some awkwardness... but overall a pleasant diversion at just under 90 mins. The ending was a lackluster and left me feeling a bit cheated. Interesting synth score throughout.
Coming nearly 20 years after the release of Henry Fool, this unexpected sequel runs the risk of coming off as extremely esoteric. It pretty much is, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because Ned Rifle is actually a return to form for director/writer Hal Hartley after a slew of mis-fires. Ned Rifle features his signature minimalist pathos, which always proves most observant towards his quirky-yet-deadpan characters, and the storyline proves to be a clever follow-up to the connected films (Henry Fool and Faye Grim) while also working as a stand-alone. Also, it must be said that Hartley made a smart move in casting the indelible Aubrey Plaza, whose delivery recalls that of his former muse, Adrienne Shelly. Unfortunately, the film's climax is abrupt and leads to an unsatisfying conclusion, and it's also apparent that the motivations of his characters make more sense to him than us. A must-see for fans of the idiosyncratic film maker, but new comers are obliged to see his earlier (and superior) work first.
This film surprises on many different levels. I don't know what it's really about. I'll need to watch it a couple more times. I enjoyed it all, especially the way it allowed a respectful clash between the pious and impious. Hollywood rarely allows a portrayal of the pious with both sympathy and depth. Christians in film are usually either good and benign or bad and malignant. They are almost never Ned. Don't get me wrong. This is not a religious movie. Not really sure what it is. I just liked all of it: the plot, the characters, their dialogue, and its arresting end.
Ned(Liam Aiken), having just turned 18, has decided to leave witness protection and head out into the world, seeking to find his mysterious father, Henry Fool(Thomas Jay Ryan), but not without a present from Clair(Melissa Bithorn) first. Ned's first stop is to visit his mother(Parker Posey) in jail, before paying a visit to Simon Grim(James Urbaniak), his uncle and Nobel laureate. And it is there that Ned encounters Susan(Aubrey Plaza), Simon's stalker, who is also looking for Henry.
Look, I've been as tough on Hal Hartley recently as much as anyone, but I think with his latest film "Ned Rifle," he regains some of his past form, with his deadpan style working in fits and bursts. And of course, it helps that he exchanged Aubrey Plaza for Parker Posey, with Martin Donovan always a welcome presence, no matter how token the appearance.(And it has been a long time since Karen Sillas has been in anything.) At the same time, this concluding installment of Hartley's Woodside Trilogy could be considered little more than an extended epilogue, if not for bringing things full circle, as Ned faces all sorts of temptation in his journey to adulthood.
Full disclosure: I did contribute to this film's Kickstarter campaign, for old time's sake, as much as any other reason.
Great ending to the trilogy.