Is the family both the centerpoint of our adult strength and the source of our weakness?
The question lingers upon coming to the end of Myth of Fingerprint, and one is left with the age-old family conundrum of love as both an unspoken bond and a lonely device.
This movie about a family gathering at Thanksgiving - always the best time of the year to resurrect demons and compare scars - deals with familial relationships from the aspects of four adult children home for the holiday. The isolated setting of the large New England house amidst the backdrop of the cold and bare landscape is perfect for a film about the difficulties of family communication rendered more glaring when thrust together in an enclosed social setting. Noah Wylie as the son Warren, and Julianne Moore as daughter Mia are the most powerful of the sibling characters, with different and yet similar personalities. Mia is all anger, Warren all emptiness and regret. Both are uncomfortable in their own skin and seem confused about what makes them this way. The mother is the glue of the house, warm and caring, and yet gently and firmly willing to hold up a mirror for each family member to see their reflection.
But it is the father who is central to the story. Emotionally constipated and rigid, he seems almost fearful of his children when he isn't cultivating a detached, yet powerful presence over them. Though he speaks rarely the actions and expressions of the father expose the quiet source of his childrens reciprocated fear. By not saying much verbally he seems to say a lot emotionally.
The beauty and complexity of the movie are the lack of background as to why exactly the children have such a strained relationship with their father, though by his aforementioned actions one hardly needs to guess. Each persons relationship with their family and their significant other (or lack thereof) is examined without intense or excessive social history allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions - perhaps based on their own personal experiences (another powerful aspect of the movie). And at the end a lingering memory, an emotional scar, will explode shattering the tension percolating below the surface of the family living room on Thanksgiving night. The closing two scenes of the father lend a quiet, powerful, and yet tragic beauty that best exemplify the crushing inner weight some carry preventing them from expressing themselves even to those they love.
Unavoidably opinions will differ on particular aspects and the overall enjoyment of the movie, but those differences will say more about the viewer themself and their relationship with their own family than it does upon the film. At its core the capacity to make us examine ourselves and our own relationships is its very power.