The Myth Of Fingerprints

The Myth Of Fingerprints has a simple plot on the surface, a family gets together for Thanksgiving. Here, the family is barely functional

Thankfully, many excellent, very successful actors care for the craft of acting. They don’t always go for the high budget films. The Myth of Fingerprints is the type of film that can attract such a cast.

The Myth Of Fingerprints has a simple plot on the surface, a family gets together for Thanksgiving. Here, the family is barely functional. The father (Roy Scheider) is running on empty. He is distant not only to his loving wife (Blythe Danner) but also his adult children. All but one child lives away from home. There is Warren (Noah Wyle) the youngest son. He is emotionally distant, ever being humiliated by his father. The first time we see him is in his therapy. Then there is Mia (Julianne Moore) who lives with her boyfriend (Brian Kerwin) who tries to love her but Mia is constantly pushing everyone away. Next there is Tom (Christopher Duva) who shows up with his girlfriend Margaret (Hope Davis). Tom truly loves Margaret and is open about it. This is just about the best relationship in the whole crew. Margaret is so out spoken that she actually asks the mother if she can sleep with her son. Lastly there is Leigh (Laurel Holloman). Leigh is the catalyst of the group. She is always there to push the wrong buttons. The various stories are interwoven like a beautiful tapestry that captivates the viewer.

The actors of The Myth Of Fingerprints meld into the best ensemble cast I have seen in a long while. They play off of each other as if they were a real family in crisis. The show love so pushed down by the petty side of family relationships that they can barely be in the same room. Wyle is a stand out character in this film. He shows a far different side than we usually see of him on the NBC TV show ER. Here he is moody, jealous and holding on to a love long gone. The scenes between him and Scheider are incredible. The tension builds between them as the film moves along. Danner holds the show together like her character holds the family together. She shows an inner calm and unconditional love for her husband and family despite their numerous flaws. Moore has never acted better. She is like a volcano ready to blow and yet there are such tender moments in the film that you will be taken aback by the way she can shift emotions.

The director Bart Freundlich has only two minor films before The Myth Of Fingerprints. He makes several mistakes as the director and is fast to point them out in the commentary. Pacing and blocking of the shots is so important in The Myth Of Fingerprints and he missed the mark a few times but I felt that the flaws of the filming only added to the real family feeling the movie so powerfully conveys. If this is his flawed attempt at directing I look forward to his growth in this field. Moore is highlighted in The Myth Of Fingerprints perhaps because he fathered her child about the time the film was made. She does get the best scenes but she deserves them for her talent. Freundlich paces The Myth Of Fingerprints a bit unevenly. The end has a both of an explosion but most of the film drifts in a way that really helps us to feel the discontinuity of the characters. In The Myth Of Fingerprints perfection would have ruined the story telling. Sometimes a flaw makes a work of art even more interesting.

The disc is excellent for a DVD from a indie. The sound is Dolby 2.0 Surround. The anamorphic 1.85 picture is always of excellent quality. I had the VHS of The Myth Of Fingerprints but decided to upgrade to the DVD for the director and Director of Photography’s commentary. They really provide an excellent insight in to the details that make up this type of emotionally intense film. The Myth Of Fingerprints is one of the truly great independent films of all times. Largely overlooked by the studios but worth a treasured place in your collection.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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