Director Colin Trevorrow has really taken his lumps lately. His newest movie, The Book of Henry, is getting flayed by critics, and this has lead to the inevitable internet speculation about whether or not he should even be allowed to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. Straight-talking fellow that he is, Trevorrow went on this week’s installment of Empire Magazine’s eponymous podcast to face direct questions about how one handles a critical drubbing like he’s currently receiving. “It’s a little heartbreaking, without getting too personal, and I think it’s just because it came to us as a bit of a shock,” explained the director. “We screened this movie to so many people, and we’d had reactions from so many people that we felt we knew what we had and we knew how it was affecting the audiences. And that actually hasn’t changed. It affects audiences in the same way that we thought it would. We did not anticipate that level of vitriolic dislike for the film. And in the end, do I want to be somebody who can please both audiences and critics? Absolutely. So is that hugely disappointing? It is.”
Trevorrow isn’t all the way wrong about the gap between critical and audience response to Book of Henry. Not many people turned out to go see it, but of those who did, 70 percent are reporting back that they enjoyed it. (Vulture’s Emily Yoshida, meanwhile, described the movie as “an exquisite corpse” that “seems so detached from the rest of the world as to levitate.”) Trevorrow was very direct and even-tempered during his discussion about turning into a pariah, and a possible ruiner of lives everywhere should he screw up his Star Wars film. He stood by the work without pulling the classic “critics just don’t understand me” line that’s become a popular scapegoat for bad blockbusters. “I went to make a film that is narratively experimental, that allows me to face my fears as a filmmaker and is extremely ambitious and complex in what it attempts to do, and also a film that very clearly works potently for many, then does not work potently for many others.” He also hopes you’ll still give Book of Henry a chance, and that time will be kinder to the movie than the immediate reception. “I’m not going to say this is some kind of movie of the future. It’s not that. But I do believe in what I did, and I hope as people see it some of that will become evident.” A pretty good response to a very bad movie.