I Am Sam - movie review (February 11, 2002)

I finally had the chance to see this movie yesterday. I thought it was an excellent movie - good story (though predictable in parts, but it's kind of hard to get around that given the subject matter) and good performances all around. It took me a little while to get into Sean Penn's performance and to separate him from Dustin Hoffman's character in "Rain Man", but after that, I thought he was absolutely excellent, and he did a lot of things that I thought a different, lesser actor might be afraid to do. I thought he was thoroughly convincing. Michelle Pfeiffer was very good as well, playing a character that is initially against type for her. There are a host of other familiar names and faces in this film, and I spent quite a bit of time pointing at the screen every time a new person showed up. It was a bit distracting for me but might not be a concern for others.

The film is heavily laden with product placements, and very obvious ones at that. Such is the case when it's a small picture and financing isn't as easy as getting a studio's backing. I didn't find it distracting per se, just interesting to note.

Good film, good script, good acting, absolutely horrible direction. The director is also one of the co-writers, and I wish she (I think it was a she) had given the directing reigns to someone else. She apparently thought Woody Allen's foray into hand-held camerawork and dizzying panning and camera movement were a good idea and decided to take it one, or two, or three steps further. I found the directing to be *VERY* distracting because I had to fight the dizziness and nausea that the erratic camerawork was causing for me, which was a pity since I thought it was a very good story, and I thought it was a major disservice to the actors because their performances were cut up and intruded upon by the camera. There were many instances when I had to resort to listening to a performance rather than completely watching it because the constantly swerving camera just made watching the screen impossible for me. Thumbs up in general, but the director really needs to learn how to use a steadicam and an editor.


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