Not even Hal Hartley fans would say that the freshest next move he could make would be a sequel to his last good movie. But ten years after Henry Fool, that’s just what he has done, picking up with Parker Posey’s character (Fay Grim) after the disappearance of gadfly-genius lover Henry and the incarceration of his outcast protégé Simon Grim. When Henry’s mysteriously compelling writings arouse the curiosity of international spies, Posey is thrust into hotel-hopping pseudo-thriller hijinks (pursued by, among others, Jeff Goldblum).
Hartley’s vaunted idiosyncrasies have always aped Godard to a sometimes astonishing extent: the philosophical epigrams, the deadpan farce, the deconstructed romances. With the terrorism-era tangles of Fay Grim, he follows his idol’s lead into the geopolitical, but (lacking Godard’s knack for inscrutable cynicism) Hartley’s exasperated wit sounds weary more often than not. Posey’s work is a marvel of split-second syncopation and spotlit attitudes, doing Hartley better than Hartley, but she’s stranded in a draggy movie with only pockets of interest.