With a title snipped off the end of a Paul Simon song (All Around The World Or The Myth Of Fingerprints), it's difficult to know what to expect from this feelgood indie drama. In many ways you should expect nothing, because little actually happens when Roy Scheider's dysfunctional clan gather at the family home in chilly New England. Yet what starts off suspiciously resembling an M&S winter catalogue shoot (all Aran sweaters and woolly socks) slowly unfolds into a touching, charming tale of angst and inner soul-searching.
As with Peter's Friends (only here most of the characters are blood-related), Myth lets you spy on a group of messed-up WASPs via fly-on-the-wall techniques. Scheider is a moody misery of a father, uneasy in the company of his grown-up kids, who are: Julianne Moore's short-tempered city bitch (with down-trodden husband in submissive tow); Michael Vartan's Jake, a shag-happy younger brother intermittently in/out of love with his quickie-in-the-woods' girlfriend; and Laurel Holloman's spunky, tomboyish little sister. Lastly, there's ER doc Noah Wyle, a broken-hearted and insecure depressive, trying to come to terms with the girlfriend who left him.
Together, these emotional misfits meet, question and reflect, not only on their adult lives, but also on the notion of family and friendship. All the jealousies, sexual secrets, and resentments that have kept them apart during the past threeyears resurface in a film which bounces erratically from one scene to the next. First funny, then sad; moving, then angry, it's a shame that Freundlich doesn't have enough screen-time to explore his characters fully. Instead you have to make do with a few defining moments: Moore shagging her geeky husband on a train, or Scheider buying a dead turkey, then shooting it to pretend he bagged it himself.
Nevertheless, the film is boosted by some good turns. Applauded at the Sundance Film Festival, The Myth Of Fingerprints is typical of the low-budget, person-driven features that characterises the US indie scene. Tortuous or touching, monotonous or moving, it's a hit or miss piece - depending on your point of view. And, of course, on whether your idea of a good time is 90 minutes of middle-class angst.
A poignant, charming, often funny story about a family reunion torn apart by long-held resentments. And the title? "It's about identity and how it's not constant the way a fingerprint is," explains Freundlich.