' ' Cinema Romantico: An Ode To Arija

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Ode To Arija

"He wondered how some memories can be so vivid, like a painting, while some were like they never even happened, like they were just dreams?" - The Myth Of Fingerprints

Daphne (Arija Bareikis), the obligatory long-ago love of our main character Warren (Noah Wyle) in Bart Freundlich's "The Myth of Fingerprints", has returned home for Thanksgiving to her rural Maine hometown, as has Warren for the first time in three years. She calls him. They get together. She takes him on a walk out to this frozen pond in the middle of nowhere. "Did you want to know why I left?" she asks. Reluctantly, he says yes. She tells him. Something horrible to do with his father, something we won't dwell on here, and how it took a great deal of time to get over it (heck, Warren still, understandably, hasn't gotten over it) and then she says the most fantastic thing. She says, "There came a point about a year ago, I guess...I was laying on my bed and I thought of you. And I realized, I didn't think about that night. I just thought about you." And that's when they press together, generating so much sought warmth that it could melt the ice and momentarily turn a teeny-tiny indie drama into an episode of "Old Yeller." (Will Warren & Daphne be rescued before or after the commercial break?!)

Ah, memories. They're mysterious, magnificent instruments. The way they let certain things linger, the way they keep certain things fresh for eons, the way they can pick and choose and discard.

Are you familiar with the Punch Drunk Love Walk? Sure, you are. We've all experienced at least one Punch Drunk Love Walk in our lives. (I won't bore you with the details of my most recent Punch Drunk Love Walk - seven months ago - partially because it ends in utter tragedy.) In a brief flashback sequence in "The Myth Of Fingerprints", right before the terrible event that throws Warren and Daphne apart, we see Daphne take a little Punch Drunk Love Walk. Out of Warren's living room and up the stairs and down the hall. It's virtuoso on the part of Bareikis - the light footsteps, like you can't even feel yourself walking, the giggle, the grin. She encapsulates the sensation. You sigh and think, "I've been there. Oh, to go back."

The moment The Punch Drunk Love Walk goes wrong. Very wrong.
I Googled Arija Bareikis to see what she's been up to since this film 15 years ago, and when you Google her you notice immediately the Google Autofill first lists merely her name and then lists "Arija Bareikis Leg." This, it seems, is because she starred in Rob Schneider's "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" (1999) as his eventual Love Interest, a woman with a prosthetic leg. A lot of people seem to wonder if the fetching Ms. Bareikis actually has a prosthetic leg. (She doesn't.) Is this to be her legacy? "Arija Bareikis Leg"?

There aren't a lot of memorable credits on Arija's IMDB profile. She was in "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead", but barely (though she has one killer line in that film that summarizes her character completely.) She was in Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda", too, but I'll be damned if I can remember where or when. Currently she's on TV in something called "Southland." I watched "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo." I'm not proud of myself, but I did. My roommate at the time rented it (remember Blockbuster?) because he wanted to watch it and I watched it with him and, well, here's the strange thing. At that point in my life I was knee-deep in my most fervent "Myth Of Fingerprints" obsession. I watched it a lot and thought about it a lot and, in turn, would have had Arija Bareikis on my mind a lot. So I'm positive I must have known it was her in as Deuce Biaglow's prosthetically-legged love interest. Yet, I honestly can't remember it.

It's funny, isn't it? How Arija sitting on the frozen lake and her Punch Drunk Love walk are so vivid in my mind, like a painting, but her and her prosthetic leg......wait......what prosthetic leg?

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