Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. 75
    This engrossing blend of humor and heartbreak only hints at the causes, from betrayal to child abuse, of this family's dysfunction. Hang on. Attention is richly rewarded.
  2. The characters are sharply etched but the plot is made deliberately ambiguous, suggesting that family life is so emotionally intricate that no single story can contain or explain it.
  3. 75
    A low-key holiday drama that's refreshing not only because it lacks the big discovery melodrama of most similar movies but because it's entirely believable.
  4. 70
    It's probably not the last word in WASP angst, but it's eloquent, witty, graceful and as sharp as can be.
  5. It's a decorous film, conventionally well-made, but don't be fooled. Its emotional impact is considerable.
  6. Reviewed by: B.J. Sigesmund
    70
    Stands as a wonderful ensemble piece not unlike Woody Allen's dramas "Interiors" and "September."
  7. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    70
    Has spasms of silliness that thaw things out delightfully. Davis plays Vartan's girlfriend as an irrepressible, sexed-up brat, and gives every line a little hop, skip, and jump.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Proficiently written and directed by newcomer Bart Freundlich, handsome pic brandishes traditional qualities in the areas of acting, character revelation and middlebrow seriousness, but operates within a familiar and narrow emotional range that provides little surprise or excitement.
  9. Less can sometimes be perceived as more, but in the case of The Myth of Fingerprints less is simply less.
  10. Freundlich's problem is that he has made an essentially interesting movie that never seems brave enough to say what it really intends.
  11. Has some good performances (Ms. Moore's ongoing snit is a terrifically sustained bit of glowering), but it only barely begins to knit its self-pitying characters into a credible family unit. They are oddballs with attitude.
  12. When all is fretted and done, there's little dramatic payoff in this moody first feature by Bart Freundlich. But cinematographer Stephen Kazmierski's images are appealing, and the mood is on target -- Thanksgiving as hell.
  13. Reviewed by: Denise Lanctot
    50
    The first-rate cast is wasted serving up this melodramatic turkey.
  14. 50
    An overly mannered film drowning in the symptoms of dysfunction but unable to tap the root causes of this WASPish clan's pain except in the most oblique and cursory ways. This might be Freundlich's point, considering this family deals with its problems through avoidance.
  15. The film has a kind of echo-filled emptiness to it that some will take as profundity and others as mere emptiness.
  16. 40
    The Myth of Fingerprints is only 90 minutes long, but watching all this tasteful torment, you can't help thinking that if you were watching a Jewish family or an Italian one, the air would be cleared -- and you'd be out of the theater -- a hell of a lot quicker.
  17. As Freundlich surely knew, he must have counted, as do we, on the revelation of character to enrich the piece. It doesn't happen. None of the people is particularly interesting, not even the obligatory neurotic, well enough played by Julianne Moore. [6 October 1997, p. 28]

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