Mundane life imitates high art in Malcolm Venville’s mediocre crime caper, which contrives a daredevil bank robbery during a theatre production of The Cherry Orchard.
Screenwriters Sacha Gervasi and David White draw parallels between the plot of Chekhov’s masterpiece and the internal conflict of their protagonist, who has always accepted his grim fate with resignation.
Until, that is, he decides to take charge of his destiny and realises you have to risk everything, including a broken heart, to win the greatest prize in life.
The marriage of love story and literature worked well for Shakespeare In Love and Venville’s film follows a similar dramatic trajectory, with a doomed on-stage romance between actors spilling into the dressing rooms.
However, Henry’s Crime doesn’t have as many snappy one-liners and many of the peripheral characters are poorly defined.
Keanu Reeves delivers a low-key performance as toll booth collector Henry, who works the night shift on a highway in Buffalo, New York, then returns home to broody wife Debbie.
The marriage stagnates and a deep discussion between man and wife is interrupted by Henry’s friends Eddie and Joe, who need their pal to drive them to a baseball game.
Little does Henry realise that Eddie and Joe plan to rob a bank and he will be their driver.
Security guard Frank arrests a bewildered Henry at the scene, who is sentenced to three years behind bars.
Freed after one year, Henry decides to rob the bank for real.
‘I did the time, I may as well have done the crime,’ he concludes.
With cellmate Max (James Caan) as an accomplice, Henry concocts a plan to break into the bank vault via the dressing rooms of a nearby theatre, staging The Cherry Orchard.
A gently effervescent diversion, but without its high-profile leading man Venville’s film would probably have been consigned straight to DVD.