A few weeks ago, I attended a free screening of Touching Home, which is based on the true story of these twin brothers, Noah and Logan Miller, whose alcoholic dad died in prison. The twins hail from Marin County and wrote, directed, and starred in this film. Super talented actors Ed Harris, Robert Forster, and Brad Dourif costar alongside these nobody twins who were plucked out of obscurity; needless to say, this film has been getting a lot of media buzz in the Bay Area.
Unfortunately, most of this attention is undeserved. By far the most interesting part about this film is the story of how it got made: after their father died, Noah and Logan set off to figure out a way to pay homage to him. With absolutely zero writing experience under their belts, they hammered out a script and took it to a San Francisco film festival where Ed Harris was doing a Q&A. They cornered him in an alley, pitched their idea, and that was basically it. A year later, this project is making its way through the independent film circuit and these boys are local celebrities.
I really wanted this film to be good. I really did. I tried so hard to like it. But beyond the stellar performances by the already established actors, Touching Home sucked. Let’s start with the writing: Never before has alcoholism and homelessness seemed so trivial. Aside from the numerous distracting story lines (Is this a baseball movie? A romantic drama? Or are we here to gain insight into father/son relationships?), this film suffered from serious Tourette Syndrome. The twins spent a lot of time yelling at each other, which I think was their method of infusing some drama into this unbelievably slow and erratic plot. Each scene was roughly two to five minutes long at most, which is not enough time to allow for any character development – not to say that their acting skills were even capable of making the audience care about them in the first place.
With a little elbow grease and a lot of patience, I believe any terrible piece of writing can be turned into something somewhat substantial. But my undying faith in the editing process does not extend to training untalented actors. You can’t edit what’s not there, and the Miller twins have nothing. It was a terrible idea for the twins to cast themselves as themselves â€“ especially because they shared so much screen time with Ed Harris, who gave a brilliant and nuanced performance of a man at the end of his life. He dominated the screen in each of his scenes, which was simultaneously good and bad because it made the movie better but made the twins’ acting look worse. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe watching someone play a version of themselves poorly, and seeing it happen twice in one movie is almost unbearable.
I honestly don’t understand how this film actually came to be. They wrote a book about it, but I don’t think I can subject myself to this experience again. The only thing I found truly inspiring about all this is that it shows how successful you can be if you’re willing to tenaciously pursue your dreams. After the film screening ended, Noah and Logan did a Q&A that absolutely floored me. They are probably the least likely candidates to get anything done in Hollywood: they are inarticulate, unoriginal, and openly admit that they don’t know what they’re doing. But it doesn’t matter, because they think they’re great and their opinions of themselves clearly rubbed off onto the likes of Ed Harris.
My company sponsored this film and is a big part of why it even exists. This means that Ed Harris and his enormous team of people spent the better part of today doing press 20 feet from my desk. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this; here I am, listening to Ed Harris shine this turd of a movie while I write up a review of said movie for someone who doesn’t pay me anything (note to Stuart: I am in no way saying that I don’t value and appreciate the opportunity to write for your site every week).
I think the lesson here is this: no matter how bankrupt you are, you can you pull yourself out of it. You only ever hear about these harrowing tales of disenfranchised people making it when they have something important to share with the world (see: Pursuit of Happyness; every American Idol star). But the Miller brothers are here to show you that you can also be creatively bankrupt and still have a shot at something big. I know this sounds fucked up, but hey, whatever keeps the dream alive.