Retro Review: I am Sam

The conflicts and heartaches we as humans have to endure can break even the strongest man. But what if that man is autistic and his heart is in play.

An autistic man named Sam (Sean Penn) takes a homeless woman in from streets. After the homeless woman has Sam’s child, she disappears and it’s up to Sam to care for his new daughter, Lucy. Sam’s neighbor (Dianne Weist) helps with the daughter when poor Sam has to go to work at Starbuck’s.

When Sam’s daughter reaches 7 years old it seems that Lucy is becoming a lot smarter than Sam is and strains begin to happen in their relationship. When Lucy does what she can to stay with her dad society begins to see what is happening and Child Services steps in. Will Sam lose Lucy? Can Sam’s “pro bono” lawyer (Michelle Pfeiffer) save father and daughter from the wrath of the law?

“I Am Sam” is as hard to watch as it is to write about. As the film progresses you are constantly drilled with debate on what is best for these displaced souls. The reason it is so gut-wrenching and emotional to watch is because of the performance of Sean Penn. That performance is so flawless that you become emotionally involved with this guy. You adore his daughter and how these two precious people adore each other.

“I Am Sam” is a movie that all parents must see because it has a piece of parental instinct for each of us as we raise our children. There is so much here that we must take to heart when raising children.

If Sean Penn gets nominated for this film for an Oscar look for him as a shoe-in to win. He deserves it. That performance dwarfs even Dustin Hoffman’s autistic Raymond in “Rain Man”. There is a cliché that an actor has to play someone disabled to win an Oscar but this situation is far from anything of that nature.

I liked Michelle Pfeiffer in this film as well. Her role is so restrained that emotion doesn’t pour out like Penn’s but she does show how far she has come in career. I also liked the chemistry between the two leads.

“Sam” is hard to sit through but definitely worth the journey if you are an aspiring parent or a parent now.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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