At Random

The Myth of Fingerprints (1997)

Directed by Bart Freundlich

Well, I spun myself around the video store, closed my eyes and chose "At Random": This time I grabbed a hold of "The Myth of Fingerprints". This was a great flick. I really thought the cast was perfect, everybody really fit in. Which is kind of ironic, being a film about a dysfunctional family. But it was really true to life. You could see that there was a connection between them, even though most of them didn't connect. The great thing about this film was that it didn't seem to try hard to make you believe they were a family. It allowed the viewer to see bits and pieces of this family's lives, with all its imperfections and short comings. And it felt genuine.

The movie focuses around a family's Thanksgiving reunion. Roy Scheider and Blyth Danner play the parents, with Noah Wyle, Julianne Moore, Michael Vartan and Laurel Holloman as their children. They all come to this get-together with their own personal baggage. Julianna Moore brings her boyfriend, and it isn't long before we see how dysfunctional their relationship is. Michael Vartan brings along his girlfriend. Vartan too is a product of his upbringing and is having difficulties with commitment, and saying "I love you". Which is something I could never understand.

Maybe it's a product of my upbringing, but I never have trouble saying,"I love you." I could say, "I love you", to a box of Triscuits and mean it. Which may not be such a great attribute of mine. My hair is kind of frizzy, too. Another "not so great attribute". I'm not too happy with my teeth either. But none-the-less, it is a result of my genetics and upbringing. My mother sees good in everyone and is very "lovey". Her hair is kind of frizzy too and my dad has big teeth. The old nature/nurture argument comes into play here.

Blythe Danner (I'm back to the movie now so keep up) seems like a nice enough mother. But no affection is exchanged. Scheider too is unaffectionate and appears to be the introverted type who is grappling with some demons of his own. But through clever writing and a great performance, you feel for him. As you do for all the characters. At least I did. Which may be because of my mother. Hell, melt some cheddar cheese on Triscuits in the microwave and you tell me you can't say, "I love you". You're dead inside if you can't. Dead!

The interesting thing about the characters is that although the children all grew up under the same roof, with the same "influences", they didn't turn out the same. They each got something else from their surroundings. Noah became the overly sensitive type, Julianna the strong, never show her emotions type, Michael Vartan is somewhere in the middle and Laurel Holloman is the really sweet, "nothing bothers her" type. But there's a subtle, similar undercurrent that they share. Which is how life is. How family is. If you have brothers or sisters you will be able to identify and understand what it's all about. And if you don't, you can always curl up to a box of wheat thins and enjoy the show. You probably got everything you ever wanted anyway. Just like my older sister did. She got braces... her teeth are perfect now. ($9.50 Rating)

Edd Rockis - copyright 2001

At Random