Directed by Colin Trevorrow of ‘Safety not Guaranteed’ fame, ‘The Book of Henry’ is a quirky and heartfelt tale about a single mother and her two sons, the elder among whom (the titular character) is an 11-year-old boy who is brilliant beyond his age. In an amusing role reversal, the carefree mother is schooled by her prodigious son. Henry sees something from the window, which sets him out on a near-impossible mission to save the girl next door from her despairing predicament.
The characters are lively, and the story has a timeless feel to it. However, it turns melancholy halfway through, but the genius of Henry saves the day at last. The intriguing premise may make you curious about its credibility. The 2017 film deals with a pretty serious theme, and if you are asking whether the story is ripped from the pages of a newspaper, you can count on us.
Is The Book of Henry Based on A True Story?
No, ‘The Book of Henry’ is not based on a true story. To novelist-screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz, however, the story has been an intrinsic part of life, as he devoted about 19 years of his life to its making. After selling his first novel, ‘The Tower,’ to the publisher, the thriller writer wanted to work on a screenplay, which came to him spontaneously when thinking about the story. For Hurwitz, it is not the plot but the characters that tie together a work of fiction. And as Hurwitz said himself, the voices that populate the ‘The Book of Henry’ came to him quite naturally.
Initially, he had this pure idea in a stripped-down form that involved a single mother and her two sons ending up in a messy situation. After innumerous drafts and rewrites, the screenplay took its present form. Fellow Harvard alumni Jenette Kahn acquired the filming rights and got in touch with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. One of the executives suggested the name of Colin Trevorrow, and after watching his ‘Safety Not Guaranteed,’ the screenwriter was convinced of Trevorrow’s ability to move people profoundly. The story already had a distinct tone, and the director added his own zeal in the visual form.
Hurwitz sat down with Trevorrow over the script, and the director was instantly drawn towards it. However, he thought the script was more of a black comedy and suggested some changes. The project was postponed since the director went on to make ‘Jurassic World’ when a deal with Steven Spielberg came to success. But he returned to the small-town story, and the film reportedly came to life in a span of 36 days.
The director brought cinematographer John Schwartzman (‘Heathers,’ ‘The Rock’), who gave the film its distinct visual quirk. The exuberant cast ensemble with an ever graceful and expressive Naomi Watts, and talented young actors Jaeden Martell and Jacob Tremblay of ‘Room’ fame, all brought their own readings of the characters. The voices submerged in vivid and animate expressions in Naomi Watts’ portrayal of Susan, and the story of a single mother being raised by her 11-year-old son becomes all too real.
Read More: Where Was The Book of Henry Filmed?