Hal Hartley has been a unique and important figure in independent filmmaking for many years. From Lindenhurst, Long Island, Hal Hartley struggled with his mothers death as a child. He also dealt with some financial problems making his way through college difficult. Yet his passion for filmmaking helped conquer the obstacles in his way. He has now directed over 20 films and has written over 15. Some of his more popular films include Simple Men (1992), Flirt (1995), Henry Fool (1997), No Such Thing (2001), and his most recent film Fay Grim (2006), which is a continuation of the plot from Henry Fool, which won the best screenplay at the Cannes film festival . He has won 5 additional major awards including the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at Sundance.
Henry Fool is about a dysfunctional family consisting of middle aged brother Simon, his younger sister Fay and their mentally unstable mother. Simon is a garbage man and has nothing to aspire to in life until Henry Fool comes along into his life. Henry Fool is a very intelligent man that has had a troubled past and is now out on parole. The families relationship with Henry is very problematic yet Henry inspires Simon to write poetry. His poetry is very controversial but leads to much success and critical acclaim. It is a story of family and friendship and how the characters treat and respond to one another.
Another successful film by Hartley No Such Thing. This film was about a reporter named Beatrice who seems to stay cheerful and good spirited despite the dreary world she lives in. Her fiance was in iceland doing a story on a mythic monster when he and his crew go missing. She insists on investigating this unsolved story and ends up meeting the monster. The monster is a very intelligent creature who shows little to no remorse for human beings. He drinks as much as he can in order to tolerate his depressing life. Once he meets Beatrice he changes, he explains that he no longer wants to live yet only one person in the world is able to kill him. They make an agreement that Beatrice will find the Dr. to help the monster end his life he agrees not to kill anymore people. Shortly after the monster was introduced to society, the evil of mankind follows showing the sad truth of the wickedness of humanity.
Hal Hartley has a unique way of expressing his vision in his films. This may be partly due to the fact that he writes and directs most of his films allowing him to express and follow up on his creative vision. He uses very unique and stylish music in his films that really help capture the feel of the film and the emotions of the characters. Most of his characters in his films have very dysfunctional families creating a somewhat dark atmosphere. Yet it creates a more realistic bond to the characters who remain strong heartfelt despite their problems. Another common theme in his films is displaying the immorality that is widespread throughout the majority of mankind.