Nov 29, 2011
My name is Sam, 2001
Director: Jessie Nelson
Cast: Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer
Stage: Home TV selection, Sunday issue late at night.
My name in short: Sam Dawson has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He works at a Starbucks and is obsessed with the Beatles. He has a daughter with a homeless woman; she abandons them as soon as they leave the hospital. He names his daughter Lucy Diamond (after the Beatles song), and raises her. But as she reaches age 7 herself, Sam's limitations start to become a problem at school; she's intentionally holding back to avoid looking smarter than him. The authorities take her away, and Sam shames high-priced lawyer Rita Harrison into taking his case pro bono. In the process, he teaches her a great deal about love, and whether it's really all you need.
Preps: Also a back-comer; I have seen this beautiful movie several times. Need to take it under the critical eye
Reality: The philosophical question/statement around which the world is revolving in this case is - "You can only be a normal parent, if you are of average intelligence." or on the other hand "All you need is love" approach, which allows doubt in the first statement and lets a parent be parent, even if it has the mind of a seven year old child. Have you noticed a lot of intelligence in 7 year old children? Well, this movie implies they aren't as intelligent we want to expose them.
Anyhow, this is not the direction I want to head into. But the dilemma, what kind of intelligence you need to have to be the best parent a child can get, intrigues me to think about it a lot after seeing this. Is intelligence really a pre-requisite? It seems analogue to the problem most companies face, when they want to employ a graduate, when there isn't a single point of evidence that this person will act better or do better work/job/activities than the one that didn't come to this high level of education. Vice versa, number of cases really show that the characteristics of one person as oppose to one's intelligence will make that person prosper on that position. Still, there are some systems that define ability of persons in this very neandertal way. In this case the parent, Sean Penn takes action on the court of law, seeking justice and fighting against social service standards, which claim he cannot be a parent that a child would benefit from. Michelle Pfeiffer, on the other hand, in a brilliant role of a depressive attorney, never willing to give up or to claim that she is wrong or that she failed in any kind of way. Rushing through her life without noticing the colours around her, she becomes posessed in bringing the young child back into her father's arms.
A story to remember and a story that takes a special place in our hearts, similar to Philadelphia, Dangerous minds, The story of Us, Erin Brockovich, etc. These are all similar movies (if we just look at them from a perspective of a message they bring.). My name is Sam won't bring any proper solutions, I am sure such stories happen on every day basis. Still, spreading the idea in the viral way (and as a media, movie is more than appropriate), will make people think and impact tem in a long run. This is one of the goals of the movie.
Is it pretentious to think that children love their parents and don't care if they are rich, poor, intelligent, witty, etc, regardless of their age and political views? No, I think it's reality. A child at the age Lucy is in this movie, loves a father without prejudice. It's the system that labels him and as depicted, because of the lack of intelligence, even a high-end lawyer cannot help him to get treaded by the system. Under pretentious mask that they are helping what is in child's best interest. Not likely. Watch it and think about it. What could a parent do more than fight to the very end?
My personal rate: 8,5 (a brilliant case, brought to the court, fighting virtues and ideals, what's wrong and what's right)
My name on IMDB