review by Bobby Blakey
Sean Penn has had an impressive career both in front and behind the camera. His latest film Flag Day has him taking on dual roles of acting and directing once again this time alongside his real life daughter Dylan Penn. The film is based on a true story, but could this film bring the story successfully to the big screen or will it just be another con?
Flag Day follows Jennifer Vogel whose father John was larger than life. As a child, Jennifer marveled at his magnetizing energy and ability to make life feel like a grand adventure. He taught her so much about love and joy, but he also happened to be the most notorious counterfeiter in US history. Throughout it all Vogel must struggle to rise above the wreckage of her past while reconciling the inescapable bond between a daughter and her father.
I knew nothing about this movie going in other than Penn’s involvement with the directing and his daughter. My thoughts to what this film was about were way off and the title is a bit misleading, but does make sense once you see it all. This is the kind of film that might not work for everyone as it is taking on real life issues and the journey is just that, real life. This means it isn’t overly exciting and for those hoping for excitement will be let down, but don’t discount this film just yet.
On the surface it is a slow paced drama with Dylan Penn carrying the heaviest load to the story. She is really good here and offers up an outstanding debut performance in what I believe is her first lead role. The dynamic they have as real life family along with both actors and director shines through in every scene. Penn's real life son Hopper Penn also has a smaller role playing Vogel's adult son so its a full on family affair.
Penn is here throughout bringing a kind of likeable yet frustrating persona to life in John Vogel. He makes a ton of mistakes as a father and person, but you keep wanting to hope he is trying to make the right choices and yet rarely does. He seems to really be feeding even more off his daughters emotions and in turn offers up an even more powerful performance.
The downside of the film, if there is one, is the pacing and some structure. The film moves pretty slow due to it being just the performances carrying it along. This isn’t a bad thing as it is just how life is sometimes, but sadly a lot of people only want the escapism of the movies and not be reminded of the struggles and sadness of life.
After sitting with it I realize how really good this movie is but it won’t be for everyone. This wasn’t the film I thought I was walking into, but pretty impressed with what I got in the end.
Check out Flag Day in theaters now from MGM.