This movie's scrabble-brained approach to religious faith makes the new X-Files screenplay seem as though it were beamed down from the quill of St. Augustine himself. I have never before had a film simultaneously insult both my agnosticism and my Catholic upbringing. Henry Poole Is Here is condescending toward believers, contemptuous toward disbelievers, and has the worst soundtrack in the entire history of cinema.
Henry (Luke Wilson) has just been diagnosed with some exotic terminal illness, rarely seen "in this country." He buys a house in a crappy California suburb, stocks his refrigerator with Krispy Kreme and champagne, and prepares to die alone. His nosy neighbor, subtly named Esperanza (Adriana Barraza of Babel), has other ideas: Soon after he moves in, she drops by with a plate of homemade tamales and becomes obsessed with a water stain on the house's stucco exterior. Believing the stain contains the visage of her Lord and savior, Esperanza invites a priest to verify its sanctity and a passel of rheumatic old ladies to try its healing powers. Soon enough, Jesus is crying tears of real blood, the bug-eyed mute girl next door has begun to speak in complete sentences, Henry's perky teenage grocery clerk starts quoting Noam Chomsky from memory, and—oh, wait, the Chomsky wasn't supposed to be the miracle. The grocery clerk, formerly nearsighted, proclaims she can see again, praise the Lord. Meanwhile, Henry steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the miracles, explaining that he doesn't believe in the existence of miracles. So there, God.
Unfortunately for the audience, it's a little hard to be astounded by a fictional miracle when the world it takes place in is so transparently false. From the incompetent nurse who stabs Henry repeatedly while searching for a vein to the uplifting pop songs that periodically interrupt the film's seemingly pot-addled conversations, Henry Poole Is Here is so stupid it makes you itch. I half expected to exit the theater with gushing stigmata—a visible warning to anyone waiting in line of the depth and profundity of my suffering.