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You don't see the "Holy Shoulder"?

You don't see the "Holy Shoulder"?


Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza

Esperanza: Oh, sorry, your door was open…
Henry: Doesn’t mean you can just walk through it…

Henry (Wilson) has been diagnosed with an unnamed, terminal disease and decides to move back to the neighborhood where he grew up.  He wants to eat unhealthily and drink away his last days in peace and quiet, but when his neighbor Esperanza (Barraza) spots what she thinks is the face of Jesus on the wall of Henry’s house, suddenly Henry’s peace and quiet is threatened.

I’ll say right away, I thought this was a very moving movie.  It is flawed, certainly, but the overall emotional response it elicits makes it worth the watch.  I’m sure what the viewer brings to this movie will greatly affect what they get out of the movie.  If you find that you can identify with some of the turmoil that Henry, or one of the other characters, is going through, you’ll get something out of this movie.

I was worried, at first, that this would be a movie that would just make fun of people seeing a holy image in a water stain on a wall.  Not because I think every water stain should be turned into a shrine, but just because those people are an easy target, and it wouldn’t make for much of an interesting movie.  Henry does supply that skeptic voice, though.  He wants these people, who he sees as desperate at best, off his property, and he’s not afraid to tell them what he thinks of their beliefs.

But as the movie progresses, and some miracles seem to actually be happening right there at that water stain, we see that there might be other reasons that Henry doesn’t want to believe in the possibility of miracles.  If he takes that step out in faith, and it fails…where else can he turn for hope?

As for the flaws I mentioned in the movie, they mostly consist of odd music interludes, odd directorial choices, some implausible situations (see: little girl’s tape recorder picking up whispers from 50 feet away), and a few other hard to buy plot conveniences.  The performances by the actors are all good, though.  The movie really rests on the believability of Luke Wilson’s character, and he does a good job of making him seem real…and really sad.  I’ll also mention this actress, Rachel Seiferth, who plays Patience, the cashier at the grocery story Henry frequents.  She might be the bright spot in the movie.  Very appealing performance from her.

Whether you choose to believe in the power of miracles, holy images in stucco walls, or just plain old fashioned hope, you’ll probably find at least something enjoyable in this movie.

10 – 1.1 for hard to swallow plot conveniences – .2 for odd music choices + .4 for good performances – 1.3 for implausible situations = 7.8