1. What was your first impression? What lines of dialogue, visual settings or aspects of the soundtrack stood out to you?
2. What genre might you assign this film to? What other films did it bring to mind?
3. The late Roger Ebert said of this film that it, “achieves something that is uncommonly difficult. It is a spiritual movie with the power to emotionally touch believers, agnostics and atheists—in that descending order.” Do you agree or disagree?
4. Who are the main characters in the story? What do we know about them? What (if any) is their relationship to one another? (Pay attention to the names of main characters!)
5. Much of the film centers around the purported ‘faith of Christ’ on Henry Poole’s stucco wall. The director calls us as a viewing audience to engage the image and yet he keeps us from ever receiving a really clear view of it. Was this a good choice? How might have been different about the film if we had of seen an unmistakably clear image of Christ?
6. Having thought some about the look and feel of the movie, the genre of the movie, and the chief characters of the movie, what do you identify as the theme of the movie? (What is this move about and how do you know?)
7. Thinking biblically…
a) To what degree does this film help us think about faith? What does the Bible teach us about how men and women are drawn to faith? What place do you maintain for the miraculous in a person’s coming to faith or a believer being confirmed and strengthened in faith? What other ‘various testimonies’ (providential prompts) are seen in this movie as supporting or leading to faith?
b). In her discussion of this film, Frederica Mathewes-Green suggests that Christian moviegoers will embrace this film on account of its, “depiction of Christian faith… as something other than the domain of cranks and loonies.” Did you feel this way? How are you used to seeing people of faith depicted in film? Do you know an “Esperanza” in your community of faith or circle of believing friends?
c) The film’s director, Mark Pellington, endured a terrible tragedy: the sudden loss of his wife, leaving him to care for their toddler daughter. Does knowing this alter your evaluation of this film in any way?
Credits for Henry Poole
8. Overall: Did you enjoy this film? What will you take away from having viewed it? (What are its abiding strengths? What are its weaknesses?)
Luke Wilson (Henry Poole)
Radha Mitchell (Dawn Stupek)
Adriana Barraza (Esperanza Martinez)
George Lopez (Father Vincent Salazar)
Cheryl Hines (Meg Wyatt)
Morgan Lily (Millie Stupek)
Rachel Seiferth (Patience)
Writer: Albert Torres
Director: Mark Pellington
Producers: Mark Pellington and others
Release: 2008, USA
Run time: 99min