Keanu Reeves, James Caan reflect on new film "Henry's Crime"
by Jessica Kramer
When Keanu Reeves works on something for five years, it's anyone's guess as to what the results will be.
In the case of "Henry's Crime," a pet project Reeves developed with screenwriter and executive producer Sacha Gervasi from a story by Stephen Hamel, the product is a labor of love. The film, directed by relative newcomer Malcolm Venville, stars the quintessential surfer dude as a lonely tollbooth collector, trapped in a bad marriage and sleepwalking through life. When Henry inadvertently gets involved — and caught — as the getaway driver for a bank robbery gone wrong, he serves a year in jail and then, when released, decides to rob the Buffalo bank he was unjustly accused of robbing, this time for real.
Movie legend James Caan stars as Henry's quirky cell-mate Max, who gets enlisted for the second attempted heist, and "Up in the Air's" Vera Farmiga is Julie, the diva actress in a regional production of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard," who becomes Henry's love interest after accidentally hitting him with her car.
Lest anyone think for a moment that Reeves' involvement warrants a screenplay credit, he set the record straight at a recent press conference. "I'm not the writer," he said.
Caan supported his co-star. "I'll show you a postcard he wrote to prove it," he said. "He can't. He couldn't write it."
"Thanks, Jimmy," Reeves said good-naturedly. "Thanks a lot."
As the main female presence in the film, Farmiga herself does not have the same problems as her character, a floundering actress, but shares the same basic impulses.
"I don't have the same frustrations as she does as an actress, but I do know what it means to be frustrated, and that's why I think women quite often amass this [frustration] about roles for women," she said, touching on a hot-button Hollywood issue. "And I'm just tired of bitching about it and whining about it. So you create your own opportunity."
Venville created his own opportunity with the feature, hoping to craft a throwback vibe with his film, inspired by classic heist films and romantic comedies of yore. "I hadn't seen those sort of relationships in other movies for a long time — goofy, beautiful, complex, psychotic, neurotic," he said. "I wanted it all."
Well, almost all.
"This picture is not going to cure cancer, and that was not the intent," Caan said. "It's not going to save anything. Hopefully, if you had a good time, and you laughed and you cried, and you didn't waste an hour and 45 minutes and you went out a little different than you came in, I think that would feel like success to us."
Even though Caan knows the movie is not earth shattering, he believes in the picture and shared his thoughts on its premise. "From my point of view, we're all prisoners in some way or another. Mine is currently marriage," he added. "In one way or the other, we all put ourselves in jail."
Caan said Henry fit into this constraint well. "I can't see anything that's more like prison than being in a tollbooth collecting coins and being in a crappy marriage as well," he said.
Reeves agreed. "As Jimmy was saying, we're all in prison in some way, and with this film, hopefully when you come out of the theater, you get a little lift," he said. "If there are things that we're not happy about, or things that are frustrating to us, hopefully we can try and negotiate that once we leave. Or just, you know, go have sex or something."
Although the film may not uplift viewers, they can still feel better by following Reeves' sage advice.