This review was originally published in Risen magazine.

Have you been counting down the days until the follow-up to Henry Fool?

What? You didn’t see Hal Hartley’s sick and twisted comedy about the garbage man who became a famous poet?

If you want a witty, challenging, intelligent comedy about art, pornography, poetry, trash, publishing, and puking… well, Henry Fool is the flick for you. James Urbaniak, Thomas Jay Ryan, Liam Aiken, and the hilarious Parker Posey make this a DVD worth tracking down. And when you do, well… the unlikely sequel’s been released to theaters and DVD simultaneously.

Fay Grim picks up where Henry Fool left off. Several years after the disappearance of her husband Henry, Fay(Posey) is raising their troubled son. Her world-famous brother Simon (Urbaniak) is in the slammer for his attempts to assist in Henry’s escape from the law. And intelligence agents from all over the world… including the eccentric Officer Fulbright (Goldblum)… suddenly want Henry’s mysterious, profane diaries.

Frustrated, Fay sets out to find her man, and ends up facing spies and terrorists. For the diaries, we learn, just might contain coded messages in a conspiracy of Muslim extremists.

Along the way, Fay runs into all manner of suspicious characters (she has one particularly memorable encounter with Elina Löwensohn in a ladies’ room), picking up the clues that will lead her straight into the lions’ den. In the anticlimactic finale, it’s anybody’s guess which cats will catch which mice. And viewers may not understand any better at the end just what we’re supposed to make of all of this.

All of that to say: This isn’t Hartley’s best film, but it’s certainly his most ambitious. Fans will love Posey’s performance, even if they have a little trouble following the rather contrived adventure, which is so talky it’s tiresome. Unless you’re a die-hard Hartley fan (and my enthusiasm for his quirky style is dying hard, but yes… dying…), it’s probably best to let Henry Fool stand alone.