🎥 THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS • 1997 • Directed by Bart Freundlich • USA • Drama
🍅RT: 60% 🔶MetaCritic: 58
IN A SENTENCE: Made in the 90’s and stuck in the 90’s, Freundlich’s movie, even with its small charms, is mostly a study in template filmmaking.
REVIEW: As I popped the cassette into my 20 year-old Sony VCR, I sensed I was in for a real treat. And, if by ‘treat’, I mean something agonizingly sweet and embarrassingly démodé, which I just happen to mean, then yes indeed it was a treat. Director Bart Freundlich, better known to me as the young, hot husband of Julianne Moore, crafted this film in earnest, I’m convinced, but was unable to avoid the traps and trajectories of too many first-time filmmakers. The premise alone is well-worn: a largish family reunites at the homestead (roomy, caucasian, comfortable) for a holiday (here Thanksgiving), and we get to watch the sparks fly and tear fall as each family member’s personal mythology gets put through a psycho-dramatic meat grinder. Not everything here is middling. The ensemble cast actually feels quite perfect in longview. I was delighted to see Noah Wyle act with his jaw and a young, pre-Amber-Waves Julianne Moore fuss with vocalization and accent. But it is Roy Scheider as the almost catatonically distant patriarch that steals the show. He just can’t steal enough of it. Brimming over with charming sentiments and real possibilities of character, THE MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS never leaves the over-appreciated spell of its own rather cookie-cutter navel-gazing. Although this species is now all but extinct, stronger, more genetically fit ancestors march on in the talented shape of Noah Baumbachs and Wes Andersons. Only the strong have survived. Blythe Danner is with us.
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