I Am Sam


I wish it were possible to buy stock in actors and actresses, because if it were I'd invest everything I could in ten-year-old Dakota Fanning. She has me at "Hello." Her eyes are eerily expressive, and she exudes the presence of a mature woman trapped in a child's body. If somebody told me she were the incarnation of Bodhisattva, I'd be inclined to believe them. This is a girl that's going to break men's hearts someday.

I first saw her in the Sci-Fi miniseries Taken, where she stole every scene she was in. I Am Sam actually predates that performance, but her simple portrayal of a loving daughter far overshadowed Sean Penn's more flamboyant stab at a kind-hearted mentally retarded father.

The movie itself careens into a brick wall of an ending, leaving the viewer with the hollowness that comes from being robbed of an expected denouement. I'm not sure how we're expected to feel about Michelle Pfeiffer, except to reflect upon how much more interested we'd be in the upcoming Catwoman film if it was her in the black latex instead of Halle Berry. I Am Sam misfires on pretty much all counts except for Fanning.

Will Fanning be another Jodie Foster, transitioning from child ingenue to adult thespian? I suspect so. And I hope in her adolescence she neatly avoids the kind of treacle that seems to suck in teenage actresses like Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, opting instead for more of a Christina Ricci-like trajectory. If she remains an actress, my money's on her to be a future Oscar winner. Or it would be, if I could figure out how to get it there.


"I Am Sam misfires on pretty much all counts except for Fanning."

but you loved the shoe salesman, right? ;-)

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