"A Wonderful Choice"
I Am Sam
Review by Ross Anthony

This sweet endearing tearjerker starts modestly with a first person view of Sam's hands rearranging sugar sacks and then rearranging them again at the local café. Sam's obsessive behavior is the least of his problems; his impaired mental capacity no longer surpasses that of his seven year old daughter. A struggling single parent, Sam's mentally challenged video club buddies help him raise little Lucy (named after the Beatles' song.)

Sam empties his pockets at the shoe store trying to purchase a sixteen-dollar pair with five bucks. The clerk desperately tries to explain that it won't be enough, that's when the cackling crowd of buds reach for a dollar or two each to contribute to Lucy's new shoes. From there on in, it was all tears for me.

Though no doubt, some will find the progressions somewhat to formula or compare the piece to Rainman (both points are valid), I couldn't help but be compelled the entire time. This rich mature script with its dead-on dialogue and powerful performances held me engaged and sympathetic. Some films keep you on the edge of your chair ... "I Am Sam" keeps you on the edge of a tear.

But there's more: Sam a compulsive Beatles fan, occasionally reaches for words from the fab four to assist in expressing himself. Appropriately, Beatles tunes alone (covered by modern rockers) comprise the fitting soundtrack. Of note, Michael Penn performs with Aimee Mann on "Two of Us." Sean's brother and a recording artist in his own right, I have and enjoy two of Michael's CDs.

"John didn't leave because of Yoko ... he wanted to try new things," Sam convinces himself that Lucy needs knowledge beyond his own experiences and weekly rituals.

"Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes and she's gone," Sam stands at the bus stop on a one-way street, infant daughter in his hands, no U-turn sign above.

At two hours thirty minutes ... I still wanted more.

  • I Am Sam. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianne West.
  • Written by Kristine Johnson & Jessie Nelson.
  • Directed by Jessie Nelson.
  • Produced by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick at Bedford Falls Co/ filmproductions GMBH & Co./New Line.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:07:38 PDT