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Henry's Crime

If I’m going to be honest with you, I’ll have to admit that I like this movie a bit more than it actually deserves. Firstly, of course, because it’s set in Buffalo, and was partly filmed here. (You already know that, and if you don’t, get last week’s Artvoice to read up.) Second, because it’s the kind of low-key movie that doesn’t get made much anymore, and certainly never gets into theaters, where everything is marketed at either 17-year-old boys or eight-year-old girls. Think I’m exaggerating? Look at just about every other movie opening this week—and the summer season is just about to start.

Henry’s Crime is one that he has already gone to jail for. Henry (Keanu Reeves), a deadend guy with a deadend job, is made an unwitting accomplice to a bank robbery and takes the fall when it goes bad. Released from prison, he decides he may as well rob the bank for real when he discovers that there is an underground tunnel connecting the bank vault to the theater across the street. All he has to do is get access to the theater, which means getting cast in their production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. (You have to at least smile at scenes of Keanu protesting, “But I’m not an actor!”)

The movie mixes comedy, drama, and romance. The first is largely provided by James Caan as Henry’s prison buddy, a con man who reluctantly agrees to be paroled to join Henry’s plan. (He figures it’s a win-win situation: Either they get the money or he gets sent back to prison, where he was happy.) The latter is provided by Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Source Code), as an actress who plans to blow town as soon as she finishes starring in the Chekhov production.

Henry’s Crime may seem slow to audiences accustomed to the slam-bang pace of most multiplex fare these days. It would have been nice to see Reeves play the clown a bit: he seems to have turned his back on comedy since the Bill and Ted movies, and it’s a shame because frankly it’s his strong suit. Despite the R rating (for some profanity), it’s pretty inoffensive, which is saying something when you consider how willfully offensive most non-Disney movies these days feel compelled to be.

Does it make Buffalo look good? Well…let’s just say that it doesn’t paint our city as anything that it’s not. Filmmakers are not going to come to the City of No Illusions to make musicals. But if you want a setting for a story about characters at a crossroads, we can help out. If you want to see a movie that makes Buffalo look good, stick with Bruce Almighty. So what if it was actually filmed in San Diego?

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Henry's Crime

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