Saturday 4 November 2023

Movie Review: Flag Day (2021)

Genre: Drama
Director: Sean Penn
Starring: Sean Penn, Dylan Penn
Running Time: 108 minutes

Synopsis: In 1992, Jennifer Vogel (Dylan Penn) learns that her free-spirited father John (Sean Penn) has been running a massive currency counterfeiting operation. Their history together is recalled in flashbacks. As a young girl Jennifer idolized her dad, even after he walked out on the family and left her mother Patty (Katheryn Winnick) penniless. A teenaged Jennifer is forced to flee her abusive step-dad and reconnects with John, but he is always either concocting far-fetched schemes or engaged in shady criminal activity.

What Works Well: A family production featuring dad Sean directing his offspring Dylan and Hopper (as John Vogel's son Nick), the adaptation of Jennifer Vogel's book is a touching yet frequently grim true story of a daughter letting go of parental hero-worship and coming to terms with her father's reality. Dylan occupies the film's core with a magnetically fragile performance, while Sean wraps her past and present with Americana magic. Wondrous rural landscapes serve as both poetic memories and the canvass for the warped version of the American dream, where scoundrels like John Vogel thrive in their own delusions.

What Does Not Work As Well: Penn the director rarely controls the frequent emotional outbursts of Penn the actor, resulting in a triumph of quantity over quality. The first-act narration creeps towards naive profundity anchored by weighted prose.

Conclusion: A heartfelt, sorrow-filled, and achingly beautiful father-daughter journey to authenticity.

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