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Customer Review

123 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Movie Experience, January 20, 2002
From the first moment I AM SAM began, I realized I was in for a rare movie treat. As part of a movie class I was fortunate to recently preview I AM SAM and find now, several weeks later that I am still as enthusiastic about this film as I was when I first saw it.
Sean Penn, and I cannot say enough about his performance, plays Sam, a mentally challenged adult with the mental capacity of a 7 year old. We first see him working at Starbucks while he puts out sugar packets in an obsessive manner, calling out orders over and over and endearing himself to customers in his charming Sam manner. Suddenly, Sam is called away and we watch him enter a hospital and witness the birth of his daughter. Elated and awestruck, Sam names the baby girl Lucy, after the Beatle song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Unfortunately Lucy's mother isn't intersted in either Sam or Lucy and as they leave the hospital, with Lucy in Sam's arms, simply runs away from them. Ill prepared and ill equipped to raise a child, Sam somehow managaes to bring up Lucy with the help of a kindly and eccentric neighbor played to perfection by Dianne Weist. As the years go by, we see glimpses of Lucy growing up as she plays with Sam, as they read Green Eggs and Ham together before bedtime, as Sam buys shoes with Lucy aided by his friends who are also mentally challenged and finally when Lucy begins school. And while I know realistically that Sam being capable of raising Lucy mostly on his own till she reaches grade school might be unlikely, Sean Penn as Sam is so loving and good with Lucy, that I truly wanted to believe this could happen.
While it isn't firmly established how Sam and Lucy manage to evade child welfare agencies all of this time, eventually these beauracratic agencies do become aware of Lucy's situation and challenge Sam's ability to care for her. Sam now must fight for Lucy as he never has had to do before. Confused and heartbroken, Sam initially finds a high powered lawyer played by Michelle Pfeiffer. But she wants no part of the case. Beset by a career which takes over her life, Michelle Pfeiffer's character has a sullen young son at home and little to say to her husband. Eventually, though, she does take the case, is almost shamed into it by other lawyers in her firm. But in a remarkable twist of fate and and while helping Sam, she learns a great deal from him about parenting and unconditional love. What happens to Sam and Lucy as they are separated and the case is argued in court are memorable scenes filled with tremendous poignancy and deep emotions. For after all, who is truly fit to be a parent. Is love enough? Who does make a good parent? And most of all, what is in the best interest of Sam's daughter, Lucy
As an addition and complementing the tremendous perfomances of Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer,Dianne Weist and Laura Dern Lucy played by Dakota Fanning, the movie inclues as background music many of the songs of the Beatles. And at various times the screenplay includes relevant lines and quotes which are fitting to the scenes. It was particualrly eerie watching this movie a few days after the death of George Harrison to hear Sam talk about the success of Harrison's song, "Here Comes the Sun," from the Abbey Road album. But what an appropriate comment I thought as the sun shined down on both Lucy and Sam as Sam ran around the soccer field with Lucy in his arms.
I cannot praise this movie enough. While at times one couldn't help but think of the movies Rainman and Kramer vs. Kramer, I AM SAM stands on its own as being a truly wonderful movie. I fully expect that Sean Penn will be nominated for many awards for his magnificent performance. I certainly hope he is acknowledged for this, a performance of a lifetime. If not I am confident that viewers like myself will never forget Sean Penn as Sam or this finely drawn character.
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Initial post: Sep 20, 2009, 8:07:22 PM PDT
Star Angel says:
this was an awesome review of this movie!!! that's way i'm buying it!!! thanks for the great review!!!
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