It's been 10 years since director Hal Hartley charmed the art–house crowd, with his film Henry Fool, said Steven Rea in The Philadelphia Inquirer. That 'œresonant study of friendship, art, trust, and politics' was the pinnacle of the indie pioneer's career. Its long–awaited sequel, Fay Grim, is 'œjust a throwaway joke.' Hartley has taken excellent characters—Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan); his estranged wife, Fay (Parker Posey); and her brother, Simon Grim (James Urbaniak)—and 'œthrown them into a Ludlumesque spy pastiche.' The scenario: Fay, is sent from Queens, N.Y., to Paris and Istanbul by CIA agents to find Henry's lost notebook of rantings, which the government is convinced is littered with secrets vital to U.S. security. Fay Grim starts out with 'œdash, then devolves into a rather generic spy thriller,' said Claudia Puig in USA Today. 'œThe film's satirical edge' is its strength, and unfortunately Hartley's 'œrazor–sharp wit becomes dulled' as it gets more and more ambitious in its plot twists. It seems the film's big idea is that 'œthe world has become increasingly more irrational and dangerous' since we last met these characters, said Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle. Maybe so. But Hartley should stick to the small, quirky stories he does best.
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