Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fingers

1978
Fingers Productions, Inc.
Director: James Toback
Length: 89 min.
Format: VHS
Date Viewed: 18 January

Fingers was remade last year as The Beat That My Heart Skipped, reviewed earlier, and is one of those rare films that is actually lesser than its remake. Harvey Keitel gives an interesting performance as Jimmy, and the unmistakably 70s style is always cool, but the film as a whole is mediocre. The relationships between Jimmy and his mother (who is alive in this film, though almost entirely absent and forgotten) and his father are much weaker here than in the remake (though in the latter, I think this is subjectively so as the remake's relationship hews closer to my relationship with my dad, though obviously without the loan sharking/thug aspect), and Ben Gazzo, as Jimmy father, is a rather bad actor which makes his character hard to like (the exact opposite of how we are supposed to feel about him). Fingers is streamlined when compared to the remake, but the story is less interesting, focusing on both underdeveloped parental relationships and Jimmy's emasculation and (confusing) sexual issues, as seen in a rather tedious relationship with a hooker. The latter leads to bizarre and overlong scenes with Jim Brown as a pimp that make little sense as to what is physically going on, but we can understand that Jimmy has been emasculated in front of the girl he likes, which partly leads us to Jimmy's act in the final scene. The ending is pretty close to the remake's, but the remake was outstandingly ambiguous in this aspect. In the original, we feel that Jimmy has reclaimed his masculinity, and the main story-line's resolution is ambiguous, but it feels somehow unearned as the whole thing was too vague for us to care very much in the first place. Jacques Audiard, in making The Beat That My Heart Skipped, has created the right kind of remake: taking a weak film and improving the story immensely. I only wish more directors would follow his example.

2 Comments:

Blogger DareDevil said...

interesting

19 January, 2006 21:07  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Hi Daredevil,

Have you seen either version of the film?

20 January, 2006 00:28  

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