Sam Dawson has the mental capacity of a 7yo. He has a daughter who's homeless mother has abandons them both. Sam's difficulties become problematic, and she's taken away. Sam finds a lawyer who tells the case pro bono. In the process, he teaches her a great deal about love and whether it's really all needed.Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The New York Times wrote that "I Am Sam is not a bad movie, and its intentions are unimpeachable. But its sentimentality is so relentless and its narrative so predictable that the life is very nearly squeezed out of it." See more »
In the first courtroom scene, the judge asks to see Sam back in court on January 5th, supposedly a month after that day. However, the board of cases for the day says the date is August 20th. See more »
HOME, GODDAMN IT!
Dialing Dr. Sloan.
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Could have been challenging and interesting but is patronisingly simplistic, sentimental and tiresome
Having taken in a homeless woman and sleeping with her, mentally-retarded Sam finds himself a father to a baby girl. He continues his menial job at Starbucks and, with the help of neighbour Annie manages to raise an intelligent little girl in Lucy. However leading up to her seventh birthday Sam gets in trouble with the police over a simple mistake and his situation is brought to the attention of the authorities who remove Lucy from his care. Sam manages to get pro-bono support from the efficient and rushed Rita Harrison and starts a challenging process to try and get Lucy back.
It is good that Hollywood is able to put issues and ideas up on the screen like this but it is the way that it delivers these things that generally kills them. In this case it starts badly with us looking at Sam working away in a coffee shop and then coping with his new baby it doesn't really look into this very much but just asks us to accept everything at face value. Then it gets to the court case and the unlikely twists that see Sam taken on by Rita and then sweetly stuttering and stumbling through the emotional turmoil as he tries to just reconnect to the thing he loves. It could have been an interesting look at the situation but instead it is too sickly simplistic and doesn't get to the heart of the characters instead keeping things very superficial and slick. This is seen in everything from the writing right down to the choice of music (which is annoyingly sentimental itself). It works on this level though but it is disappointing to see such a high profile film seemingly aim for the quality of a daytime TV movie (which is where this will gradually move now that it has had its peak slot premiere).
The cast are OK but the material isn't there for them. Penn deserves credit for taking it on and doing it so convincingly and he does it well but it is hard to get past the fact that he is "doing" mentally retarded rather than playing a character. In other films you would see his role as the simplistic one but here that is left to Pfeiffer to deliver and she fluffs it terribly. Her character is awful and there is little she can do with it other than be flustered, be emotional or be professional whatever the scene requires. Fanning is as good as ever; a bit precocious of course but generally more able than many cute kids. Wiest has little to do, while Dern has a thankless task as the stupid plot device required to produce the ending. Support from Schiff is good (aside from the film giving his character very little sympathy) and there are a few other familiar faces in there too.
Overall though this is nothing more than a starry daytime TV movie. The debate that it could've sparked never comes out and instead it is simplistic, sentimental and unconvincing. For some this level of "ahh" might suffice but it ignores the complexity of the situation and the fact that it is not as simple as the story here suggests is just rather patronising.
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