Fay Grim Hal Hartley

Fay Grim Hal Hartley
Indie fave Hal Hartley updates 1997’s Henry Fool with this thriller that features some fine moments but doesn’t hold together. Parker Posey carries the film as New Jersey housewife Fay Grim, whom a C.I.A. agent (Hartley newcomer Jeff Goldblum) coerces into hunting for notebooks that belonged to her fugitive ex-husband, Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), suspecting a link to terrorism. Fay travels to France in her search for Henry and gets entangled in a web of good guys, spies and terrorists, including another Hartley newcomer, Saffron Burrows. Hartley’s wit is evident in the rapid-fire dialogue and his characters are endearing as always but the suspense is flat and the action sequences clumsy. Hartley is renowned for making large dramas about common lives and deserves credit for expanding his palette here. However, the story is hard to follow; his characters talk a lot but what do they say? The camera is constantly tilted but instead of creating a sense of danger becomes distracting. On the positive side, Hartley fans will rejoice in the DVD’s half-hour episode of filmmaking show Higher Definition, which interviews all the leads and Hartley. The episode is more relaxing and candid, with Posey, Goldblum, Burrows and Hartley veteran Elina Lowensohn, while Hartley talks more about the filmmaking process here than in the obligatory "making of” featurette. The deleted scenes amount to exactly one. A greater shortcoming is the lack of a commentary track by Hartley. (Alliance Films)