MOVIES

HENRY’S CRIME

Offbeat new romantic comedy about a bank robbery starring Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves stars in this charming indie about a loveable loser who is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit – he thought he was driving his friends to a baseball game but turns out they were robbing a bank – and subsequently decides that ‘if he’s done the time he might as well do the crime’ and sets out to rob said bank following his release after a bunch of life lessons in the slammer with cellmate James Caan.

In order to do this, Reeves has to get a role in the production of Chekov’s ‘The Cherry Blossom’ next door to the bank (the plan is to dig through a wall in the theatre into a pre-existing tunnel that connects the theatre and bank) as Lopahkin and he subsequently falls in love with his leading lady ,played by Vera Farmiga who was so good last year opposite George Clooney in Up In The Air. As the play, the romance and the robbery all progress, the three strands of the plot head to an enjoyably, albeit somewhat predictable, culmination on opening night.

This is all fairly ridiculous stuff, and seems to take place in some kind of small town (re: Buffalo) bubble where the laws of reality/common sense have been suspended: is it really this easy to steal 12 million dollars? Is is really possible nobody would hear/notice the gang tunnelling through the walls? Is Chekov’s The Cherry Blossom really a sell out play?

However, if you can suspend your disbelief at the ridiculousness of the whole thing, then the movie is an enjoyable and offbeat romantic comedy, featuring great performances from Caan and Farmiga and perhaps only spoiled slightly by Reeves’ trademark wooden and unemotional offering which can be summed up in this picture of him that features the facial expression he wears for pretty much the entirety of the movie:

To begin with I thought that Reeves had been cast perfectly as the monosyllabic, emotionally detached loser Henry (possibly his best casting since the moronic Ted in the Bill and Ted movies) and there’s an enjoyable scene where the director of the play (Peter Stormare) is trying to teach him how to act. You might think that – as Reeves produced the movie too – he might be sending himself up with this scene as Jean Claude Van Damme did in JCVD, but I doubt that Reeves has the intelligence or creativity to consider such a notion. However, other than the final scene, I felt that Reeves’ attempts to act within the movie were pretty indifferent to his actual performance and claims from other cast members that Henry was ‘a natural’ suitably laughable.

I wasn’t convinced either by his chirpsing of Farmiga – although he had some pretty sick chirpses (let’s go get some ice cream; i’m planning on robbing the bank) they were delivered with a lack of any charisma and it made me question how a cool, sassy woman like her would jump into bed so quickly with a loser like Henry. My friend told me it was just because he was so hot though. This kind of makes sense.

The film is to be commended for focussing less on the robbery itself and more upon the relationships of all the characters who populate it, which enables its quirky humour to be exploited to the maximum with several laugh out loud moments; my favourite of which was the beard that Reeves is required to wear in his role as Lopahkin, although i’m not sure if this was intentional:

Overall Henry’s Crime is an enjoyable caper and well worth watching. Although it could be argued that the real crime is Keanu Reeve’s acting, I found that his stiff attempt at a deadpan performance only added to the quirkiness of the humour of the whole production, and probably made me enjoy it even more.

 

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