Big question: Can "Fay Grim" find amusement and excitement in its casual approach to the style of flicks like "The Bourne Identity"--even for viewers who haven't seen "Henry Fool"?
Skip it: If you can solve the code that Fay thinks may clue her into what's going on: "Ottoman-plus-Thanksgiving-equals-turkey-divided-by-wild-party-equals-?" Clearly, you already know where this is going. Right?
Bottom line: A two-hour espionage thriller grows wearisome when half the thing is a joke anyway, and all the complications don't add up to a clear payoff. But with smart, ironic humor and a confusing web of spy secrets, "Fay Grim" keeps you laughing and guessing at the same time.
Bonus: Henry offers viewers a foolproof defense of a seedy lifestyle: "That's just the way I am. I gravitate to the lowest common denominator on principle." It's always best to follow your instincts!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed, edited and written by Hal Hartley; photographed by Sarah Cawley Cabiya; production design by Richard Sylvarnes; produced by Hartley, Michael S. Ryan, Martin Hagemann, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente. A Magnolia Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:58. MPAA rating: R (for language and some sexuality).
Fay Grim - Parker Posey
Fulbright - Jeff Goldblum
Simon - James Urbaniak
Ned - Liam Aiken
Juliet - Saffron Burrows
Bebe - Elina Loewensohn
Henry - Thomas Jay Ryan