REGARDING HENRY, 1991
Cast: Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Michael Haley, Stanley Swerdlow, Rebecca Miller
Henry is a lawyer who survives a shooting only to find he cannot remember anything. If that weren't enough, Henry also has to recover his speech and mobility, in a life he no longer fits into. Fortunately, Henry has a loving wife and daughter to help him.
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At times an overly sentimental tear jerker that tries too hard to get your tears flowing, Regarding Henry sports a stellar cast but is drowned in its own self indulgent sappy characters and story. A high profiled and wealthy lawyer, Henry Turner (Ford) is a rigid cold family man living the perfect life with the perfect wife and daughter, despite his rather cold demeanor. Yet his world his shaken, after getting shot in the head in a random act of violence, and heís forced to undergo a slow development back to normal.
The process involves relearning the simplest skills such as writing, reading, speech, and getting dressed in the morning. But over the course of his rehabilitation he learns the most important part: his love for his family.
Harrison Ford is one of the most recognizable and talented actors in today. His films are entertaining, captivating and iconic, such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. But here, Ford falters a bit trying too hard to get us to sympathize for Henry. All of his scenes are aimed at tugging at our emotions rather than telling a genuine story about a man trying to regain his life.
This is probably one of Fordís most challenging works and he does a solid job despite falling victim to clichťs and overly sentimental dialogue. In addition, Ford is up against the lack of realism in this film making it hard to connect to his character. His moments however with his caretaker come off authentic and sincere. The two of them together provide some compelling moments.
But those compelling moments are too scarce and the scenes that try to convey that sentiment fail. If not hammering the sappy material, the film is trying to deliver a message in every one of its scenes. We know that his previous life as the cold lawyer was not the ideal life, but every moment he has to show his new personality is given too much attention.
If at some point during his rehabilitation into a better man, his previous characteristics emerged, then it would make for a more gratifying payoff in the end. We should see his struggle to not only develop his primitive skills, but dispel with old personality becoming a more morally conscience and decent person. But that doesnít happen. We only see him become the new mister nice guy the moment he returns home without having to develop that character.
Thereís a lot of potential here that Mike Nichols misses in favor of creating a film centered on cheap uncreative sentimental content. Ford does a solid job, but itís just not enough to warrant a good film. Itís not bad, but itís not particularly good either and after watching Regarding Henry, you may not remember anything regarding this film. Shame, since Ford is usually captivating and enjoyable in his films.