Space can be at a premium during a film festival. A prime example of this was when the time came on May 1, 2007, for me to talk to Hal Hartley and Parker Posey about FAY GRIM, Hartley’s wry and wise sequel to HENRY FOOL. The only room to be found in the shared suite was the cramped bedroom, and so Hartley, Posey, and I stretched out amid my recording equipment on the bed to chat about art, politics, and the effect of eye contact on and off the screen. It may or may not have put anyone more at ease, but it was memorable, at least for me. My only regret is that there is no photograph to commemorate the moment.
As for the film itself. When HENRY FOOL burst upon the screen and the scene in 1997, it was hailed by some as writer/director Hal Hartley’s masterpiece. Others, of course, castigated it. Such is the fate of films that dare to address deeply philosophical issues with an offbeat sense of humor and a pithy sensibility. Such may well be the fate of FAY GRIM, Hartley’s sequel, the which some of us have been hoping for since 1997. It dances through so many levels that while one viewing is sublime, several are a giddy revelation, each one more so than the last. Milton, realpolitik, bed-time stories, and the relative nature of truth, not to mention Henry’s true identity and age, bubble with blithe import, coalescing into a work with heady theological implications that is brilliant, funny, iconoclastic, and so deeply true that it is almost too beautiful to bear. The film co-stars James Urbaniak, Jeff Goldblum, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Liam Aiken. Hartley directed from his own script.