I recently watched the Harrison Ford starring Mike Nichols directed 1991 film Regarding Henry. I remember seeing it in the theater back in 1991, being really moved by it, and including it on my Best Ten list of that year.
It was wonderful rediscovering it. Understated direction by Mike Nichols, superb on location NYC cinematography, and one of Harrison Ford's most versatile roles where he gets to play outside of his normal stoic range and pulls it off quite nicely.
Annette Bening is terrific as his wife. Her engaging performance in this film, as her character fights to hold it together in the aftermath of a tragedy, demonstrates why she is one of the great underrated actresses of the past twenty years. She owns every scene she is in with her very presence alone in an old school movie star kind of way.
But the true heart of this film is their twelve year old daughter Rachel Turner played with Fanning like realism by Mikki Allen. For it is she who moves the emotional arc forward of not only her parents, but the movie itself. There is is also a wonderful character named Bradley who serves as the Henry's mentor is the classic Hero's Journey fashion. He is played with charismatic warmth by the Pittsburgh born character actor Bill Dunn.
Two great joys about seeing this movie again:
One was the beautiful score by Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer is a composer best known for his uber cool Oscar nominated strains of Inception and his massive testosterone sonic blasts for movies like Crimson Tide, The Peace Keeper, and The Dark Knight. But Regarding Henry shows a subtle, original voice that proves Zimmer can create deep emotional music as well. I will be hunting down a copy of this long out of print soundtrack to add to my collection.
The second joy was the discovery that this movie was written by none other that J.J Abrams. And it shows because the one trademark that is unmistakable in all of Abrams' work... Lost, Fringe, Star Trek, and especially Super 8... is that is expertly paced and emotionally involving.
I am officially putting Regarding Henry into my Overlooked and Underrated Hall of Fame.
There is a great cover story about J.J Abrams in the current issue of Creative Screenwriting.