ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Sam is emotional ride
Count swings action and
Orange County doesn't
Sam is emotional ride
Rollercoaster leaves you smiling
|I am Sam
Starring: Sean Penn,
Michelle Pfeiffer, Laura Dern, Dakota Fanning, Diane Wiest, Joseph
Rosenberg, Brad Silverman
Directed By: Jesse Nelson
Four 1/2 stars (out of five)
By Jonathan Higgins
He's been married to Madonna. He's been on death row. But, in his
latest role in I am Sam
Sean Penn plays a mentally-challenged father fighting to prove he can
handle the responsibility.
I am Sam is an emotional tearjerker aided by the odd moment of
Like most fathers, Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is eagerly awaiting the delivery
of his child. However, the mother, a homeless woman who used Sam's
apartment as a place to crash, does not feel the same way about the
Once her child, a daughter named Lucy (Dakota Fanning), is born, she
leaves Sam. Facing a seemingly impossible task – raising a child as a
mentally-challenged single father – Sam looks for some friendly advice to
help him out.
Although Lucy has a somewhat unique, yet enjoyable homelife, social
services doesn't think a man of Sam's intelligence is capable of raising a
"normal" girl. Thus, the court takes Lucy away from him.
Sam must now prove himself a suitable father and unfortunately, his case
does not look good. In order to win back custody of his daughter, he must
obtain the best legal representation. That's where workaholic, hotshot
lawyer, Rita Harrison (Michelle Pfeiffer), enters the picture.
Together, the two set out to prove to the court that Sam's love for his
daughter makes him as suitable, if not more suitable, to raise a little
girl than most "normal" fathers.
Lucy's performance, by the up-and-coming Fanning, was quite enjoyable. The
audience never gets the impression she is an actress playing a part, but
rather, a little girl being viciously uprooted from the father whom she
loves with all her heart.
Pfeiffer gives an excellent performance as the successful, workaholic
single mother who pays more attention to her cases than to her son.
However, neither performance even comes close to that of Penn.
Penn is able to capture most of the physical and emotional features of a
mentally-challenged individual and produce an extremely realistic
character that could make you cry and laugh all in the same minute.
Penn's performance is so realistic that the only difference between him
and the two genuinely mentally-challenged actors in this film, Joseph
Rosenberg and Brad Silverman, are the physical traits they were born with.
Writer/director/producer Jessie Nelson is no stranger to this genre. She
has made many emotional family dramas, but I am Sam is by far her
Throughout the film, Sam makes references to various Beatles' songs,
making the soundtrack a pure pleasure to listen to.
I am Sam is a rollercoaster, but thanks to the successful mixture
of drama and comedy, it's guaranteed to send you home from the theatre
with a smile on your face.