(Air Date: Week Of 2/12/97)
"Follow Me Home", like life, operates on many different levels. Superficially, it's about a trip, but, like all great quests, it's not the destination, it's the journey that counts. It blends inner life with the outer, dreamtime with nightmares and the past with the future as it makes a good case for them all being equally deserving of the title reality. The premise is set up in the opening scene, when our main characters, multi- cultural, mural artists in L.A. discuss the tyranny of the patriarchy and the power of words to create reality.
Together, they then embark on a cross-country trip to paint a mural on the White House. Univited. On one level, it's a statement of ethnic pride and, incidentally, a publicity stunt. On another, it symbolizes an attempt to claim a part of America from the Anglo mainstream that rejects, or worse, ignores them.
Symbolism runs throughout the journey. Our roving melting pot is confronted by the white-on-white world at a southwestern diner. When Abel, the troubled and troublemaking member of the group, lashes out, order is enforced by soft words and a constitutionally sanctioned, very big gun. Later, a car accident with a pseudo-Indian leads to a confrontation with history re-enacters. The symbolism of men in cavalry uniforms on a desolate stretch of western highway, aiming Colt .45s at a group of that includes, Chicanos, African-Americans, and a Native American, because of a stolen antique tomahawk is almost too much. It's a nod to Peter Bratt's writing skill that it doesn't cross the line into absurdity. He shows us rather the absurdity of the daily friction between races, genders and cultures in America, in how it poisons everyone concerned.
Peter Bratt's direction is no less impressive with his fine cast, headed up by the transcendent Alfre Woodard. But it's Benjamin Bratt, Detective Curtis on TV's "Law and Order", who stands out. All but unrecognizable as Abel behind a snaggle-toothed prosthetic and homeboy personna, he shows how fear and hopelessness fester beneath the violence and bravura of his character.
"Follow Me Home" is an intense film, almost overwhelming in its passion and vision. Its potent message is the necessity of respect, for self and for others, as the basis for tolerance and the starting place for hope.
Copyright 1997 Andrea Chase
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