I AM SAM     - A    Narada    Film Review

  teaches Sam (SEAN PENN)   
  the intricacies of ties. 
  Rita being driven to
  distraction by phone   
  calls - Sam listens in.  
   Bedtime stories, Sam 
   listens intently as Lucy
   (DAKOTA FANNING) reads.   
I Am Sam ,    Directed, Produced & Screenplayed by Jessie Nelson,

      Viewed On 12 June 2002 .

            I Am Sam was 2 hours and 12 minutes long.    (That's 132 minutes. )   I know because I looked at my watch 132 times.    And I think I know why this half hour melodrama was torturously racked out -    Lets just call it "Star Wars Syndrome"   - as in Star Wars, I Am Sam was produced, directed & screenwritten by a single person - this time out - Jessie Nelson .    It must be an horrific and irresistable temptation of the ego - and the problem seems to be, if the Producer/Director wrote it, the editors are going to be reluctant to suggest changes.   If indeed I Am Sam was edited at all.
            The courtroom scenes seemed to be comprised of the "bad" lawyer browbeating and humiliating the witnesses testifying for for the "good guy", Sam Dawson ( Sean Penn), a subnormal who attempts to retain custody of his daughter, Lucy  ( Dakota Fanning ).   I've seen better afternoon Soap Opera .
            But what is good about the movie?    The acting.    The acting was I Am Sam's long suit, and to be honest, its only suit.   Each star really "starred" - from young Dakota , to Sean to Michelle Pfeiffer as Rita , the manipulative lawyer with a soft spot (one can't help but notice Pfeiffer 's genius for comedy - even in this failed tearjerker).    The two "retards" - who are retarded persons in real life - are also to be commended for their efforts.    And what is great about the movie?    The acting.    Kudos to Dianne Weist as Annie Cassell , the reclusive neighbor who is afraid to leave the confines of her apartment.    That she didn't get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress is a testament to the blatant and total corruption of the entire 'Oscar' process.
            Ultimately, not even this trophy case of superb acting will be enough to save this longwinded and irksomely manipulative film from its richly deserved place in the catacombs of obscurity.
        Enduring Line Or Phrase:   "I do pro bono."

Reviewed by Narada for Bangkok Eyes - 12 June 2002

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