4YE’s Big Movie Binge: Regarding Henry

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Harrison Ford is considered to be a bankable star. His early blockbusters and meteoric rise to fame often overshadow his more tender and more emotional performances. Everyone knows Ford as Han Solo or Indiana Jones, but does the audience know Ford as a character like Henry Turner? More recently, despite being in The Force Awakens and being announced for a fifth Indiana Jones film, Ford has turned to meatier roles, ones that show off his acting prowess. Ford is more than his action roles. In Regarding Henry, heplays Henry Turner who is damaged, emotional, and brilliant. Films like this one serve to remind the audience that Ford is a capable actor if given the right script.

Henry Turner is a cold man. He is narcissistic, powerful, and ruthless. His wife Sarah (Annette Bening). They are in a very tenuous and unhappy marriage. Their daughter Rachel (Mikki Allen) also suffers from her father’s cold contempt and her parent’s cool indifference toward each other. After dinner one night, all that changes when Henry is shot in the head and the chest by a robber. When Henry wakes up, he can’t remember how to talk, walk, or who he and his family are. Throughout the film, Henry learns to walk and talk again but his memories as a cold and ruthless lawyer are gone. Sarah, Rachel, and his physical therapist Bradley (Bill Nunn) teach Henry to love and live again. All the while Henry untangles the life he left behind and rights the wrongs he did before his accident.

Regarding Henry is a fairytale with enough cheese for a theatre full of grilled cheese sandwiches. The plot twists feel like they’re out of left field in an overly simple story. They don’t have enough clout to carry the film through a slow arc of redemption brought on by two well-placed bullets. J.J. Abrams, yes, that J.J. Abrams, attempted to give the audience a well-intentioned story that is rooted in reality. The only good things to come out of the film are the performances by Ford and Bening.

Ford did a lot of research for the role of Henry. That much is obvious in every movement and every mannerism he gives him. It’s easy to see why Ford should have been nominated for something for this film but the story is what held it back. Ford is a firecracker in the first ten minutes of the film. After Henry’s shot, the entire film is a sharp shift to Ford as a quiet, innocent, and unassuming character. He crushes it. Nothing that he does in character feels forced. He reactions to a pornographic film were funny. His reactions to the world around him once he’s out of the hospital is full of wonder. Things don’t really get interesting until Henry is thrown back into his job as a lawyer. Those scenes are where the true magic lies.

Of course, I would be remiss to not mention Bening. When Henry is not with his lawyer buddies, he is with his loving and adoring wife Sarah. Bening carried most of the emotional weight of this film and she did so with so much heart and intensity, it was hard not to believe the turmoil Sarah was going through. Bening acted her heart out. She delivered a one-two punch between not so likable to a fully-fleshed out woman who’s been put in charge of her ailing husband. It’s a shame Bening and Ford haven’t acted together in another film because their chemistry was quite lovely. Though, I think Ford could have chemistry with a tree if push came to shove. He’s that charming in everything he does.

If Regarding Henry had a better script (sorry, J.J.), then I think it could’ve done big things during awards season. Unfortunately, despite the performances, the film was just too schmaltzy and too cheesy. I do like fairytales, but this one was a bit too sugary sweet and a bit too uneven for it to be really worth a second viewing.

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Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
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