This digitally shot feature marks the directorial debut of award-winning writer Steven Peros (THE CAT'S MEOW) and its packaging is covered with attention-grabbing exclamations of favor from various critics. (Armond White called it one of the year's ten best films, and Donna Walker of KPFX hailed it as "A Great Film!") I admit it's admirable in certain ways, but rather than a solid piece of storytelling in its own right, it feels more like the fleshed-out shadow cast by a sincerely-felt, mid-level short story.
Sybil Temtchine stars as a nameless young woman who awakes lying prostrate across the movie star footprints outside the old Grauman's Chinese Theater (strangely void of tourists) and, somehow attracts the attention of a series of well-meaning, helpful folks on the streets of modern day Los Angeles. Burly, menacing men turn out to be friendly, she meets a distinguished old gentleman named Victor (H.M. Wynant) who takes a paternal interest in guiding her back to her identity, and she joins forces with an out-of-work actress (Catherine Bruhier) who dresses as the Halle Berry Catwoman to poses for tourist pictures, suiting up as Wonder Woman. She loses track of Victor, who turns out to have been an actor in his younger days, but throughout her foggy afternoon, she is drawn to a repertory theater where an old serial is due to be screened.
What I find admirable about FOOTPRINTS is that it uses digital technology and the internet to produce an original, only marginally arty piece of adult storytelling; it doesn't try to imitate or emulate what the bigger, more commercial teams are doing, and I believe meaningful films produced at this level are our only hope of saving the American cinema from its escalating cannibalistic tendencies. Also admirable is that its story provides opportunities for some seasoned, proven and sadly underused talent like H.M. Wynant and Pippa Scott (as Genevieve, the former star of the aforementioned serial) to practice their craft in a truly foregrounded manner with important roles. If the film's fault can be narrowed down to any one thing, aside from Peros' difficulties with aligning his somewhat ethereal story with visual storytelling of a complementary greater gravity, it's the central casting of Temtchine, who, more as a result of miscasting than inability, fails to command our attention to the necessary extent of carrying the film. And does the payoff live up to all the fuss it makes over its mystery? I really can't say -- there's no there here.
Viewed on footprintsthemovie.com DVD-R.