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REGARDING HENRY

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Harrison Ford, Annette Bening
Director: Mike Nichols
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: None
Length: 107 Minutes
Release Date: September 9, 2003

Film ***

The notion of getting that rare kind of second chance in life is terrifically illustrated in Regarding Henry. The story surrounds the sudden near tragedy that strikes its lead character, only to lead him to discover a side of him that nobody could’ve thought existed. The film is a triumph for its star, Harrison Ford, who turns in a rare, touching performance in director Mike Nichols’ drama.

Ford plays Henry Turner, a power-driven NYC defense attorney who lives in high class, but with little happiness. At the opening of the film, the lawyer has just won a case where he was defending a hospital that was accused of denying a diabetic patient. Despite the courtroom victory, Henry remains a cold-hearted and ruthless machine.

In addition, Henry doesn’t give enough time for his wife and daughter. Daughter Rachel (Mikki Allen) is always being punished for harmless accidents like spilling something on the floor. His wife, Sarah (Annette Bening), does the wife bit when it comes to showing up at business parties and such, but is not as much in love with the man as she was when they first met.

Then unexpected tragedy strikes. One night, while going out to buy cigarettes, Henry intervenes at a convenience store robbery. The result leaves Henry wounded with two bullets, one in the chest and one in the head. The wounds weren’t fatal, as explained by the doctor, but the shot to the chest caused a disruption in the flow of blood to the brain, leaving the lawyer brain damaged. He will have to endure an elaborate rehabilitation process in order to regain full consciousness.

Before long, Henry is learning to walk again, through the help of his physical therapist, Bradley (Bill Nunn). His memory and speaking abilities take a bit longer to regenerate, but before long Henry is able to talk again, thanks in part to a helping of eggs with Tabasco sauce. Despite having regaining consciousness, the new Henry knows nothing of his former life, not even his own wife and daughter. Added to this, the new Henry is also a much kinder, gentler soul, completely the opposite of the man he used to be.

The heart of the movie is Harrison Ford’s performance, which actually stands out as one of the more challenging roles for the veteran actor. Ford, known for playing tough guys, reveals a much more gentle side, as the performance requires him to go a route that he has never gone before. The result is a triumphant performance, as well as the saving grace of the movie, which at times tends to boarder on cheap plot points that belong in a TV movie.

Regarding Henry is a marvelous performance piece from Harrison Ford, and touching in some parts as well. Though it tends to be a bit more sentimental than it needs to be, the finished product is a much entertaining drama.

Video **

When it comes to titles that have aged some since the birth of DVD, their look is always hard to predict in the format. Regarding Henry has aged twelve years since its release, and the video presentation from Paramount has more downs than ups. One thing I noticed is that the picture is consistently softer than it needs to be, adding in a bit of grain and compression here and there. Once in a while, the image will come up nicely with sharpness, but for the most part this came across as a transfer that should’ve gotten the director’s supervision.

Audio **

This is a movie powered by dialogue and not much else, so elaborating on this 5.1 track will come across as quite simple. For the most part, dialogue is heard clearly, but at the same time, all the audible action tends to come from the front area and not much elsewhere. Not an entirely terrible listen, but my feeling was there wasn’t much that could be done in this area.

Features (Zero Stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

Despite not being much of a top quality disc, Regarding Henry remains a worthy entry in Harrison Ford’s career, whose performance is the key to the movie’s success. For the most part, an exceptional drama.