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Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Jennifer Vogel’s 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. Based on a true story and directed by Sean Penn, Flag Day stars Penn and his real-life daughter Dylan Penn in an intimate family portrait about a young woman who struggles to rise above the wreckage of her past while reconciling the inescapable bond between a daughter and her father. —Anonymous
Flawed, but I still actually liked this.
Penn’s directing was also decent, and I had no problems with the time-line story telling, but I did find the 109 min runtime and the slow pacing drag out the story more than it should have. The screenplay felt a little scattered in some places, and I would’ve liked to see more father-daughter dynamics in the story. Cutting out about 10-20 mins from the adapted screenplay by Jez Butterworth would’ve done this film justice, and you wouldn’t have lost any of the stories substance. The soundtracks, although very fitting, were too long and too many imo.
Nevertheless, it’s a good story told well, that I enjoyed regardless of its flaws. I guess maybe I’m a little biased being a father and having a daughter that age, and a longtime fan of the Penns, but I still do recommend it, and will say the critics really went too hard on this one. It’s a well deserved 7.5 rounded up to an 8/10 from me.
just not a good dude
Told through the eyes of Jennifer (played here by Sean Penn’s daughter Dylan Penn, a lookalike of her mother Robin Wright), this is the “based on a true story” of John Vogel, but also the story of Jennifer, who managed to overcome challenges that stemmed from her far-from-ideal childhood. Jennifer’s mother Patty (Katheryn Winnick, “Vikings”) is an alcoholic and has a tumultuous marriage to John, a con man who constantly spews bombast and fabrications (aka lies) as he tries to scam the system and impress his family with his big plans (that go nowhere).
Since the film opens with a law enforcement standoff, and with Jennifer being interviewed by a Federal Marshal (Oscar winner Regina King), we know how John’s saga concludes, and most of the movie is spent in Jennifer’s memories to paint the picture of her dad and her life. Some of these are “flashes” of moments, while others are extended segments where we really get a feel for the father that cluttered a daughter’s mind and life. It’s tough to watch 105 minutes of a guy with little redeeming value.
This is not the place to detail what we see, but it’s at times disturbing to see the memories of a father who doesn’t so much slip in and out of the lives of Jennifer, younger brother Nick (played by Sean’s son Hopper Jack Penn), and mom Patty, as he appears and vanishes in proverbial explosions akin to the Wicked Witch of the West. Given that her mom is equally inept at parenting, high school Jennifer seems destined to follow in her father’s footsteps.
Covering a period from 1975 through 1992, we see Jennifer as a young kid, and then Ms. Penn takes over the role in high school. She is also our narrator, some of which is overwrought for a film that mostly strives to stay grounded in family dynamics, as Jennifer works to overcome. In addition to the previously mentioned appearance by Ms. King, there are also brief yet effective turns by Josh Brolin (as John’s brother Uncle Beck), Dale Dickey (as John’s crusty mother), Norbert Leo Butz (as Patty’s sleazy boyfriend), and Eddie Marsan (near the film’s end).
In addition to overuse of voiceover, director Penn includes a few too many song/musical interludes. Some of these songs are excellent (Cat Power, Eddie Vedder, Glen Hansard), but they feel a bit heavy-handed and forced into the film. In fact, melodrama is chosen over nuance on multiple occasions, but when the film is good, it’s very good. The best scenes are between father and daughter, Sean and Dylan, the latter of which shows flashes of incredible depth. We look forward to more of her work. As for Sean, can you name another actor whose natural look better exemplifies a guy who has had the snot kicked out of him by life (even if he’s made his own bed)? He portrays John Vogel as a con man who believes achieving the American Dream is something he’s owed, not something to earn. His love of Chopin is not enough to excuse his horrific parenting, scamming, or felonious behavior. There are various forms of freedom, and Jennifer must discover freedom from someone who has prevented you from being her true self.
Opens in select theaters on August 20, 2021.
This movie is all over the place. I hate those trillion flashbacks. Going nowhere, but trying desperately to be artsy fartsy
Sean Penn said he had retired from acting, after his latest film got booed at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016. He hasnt made anything good in at least 15 years but now he is “back” with directing and starring in Flag Day.
Uh, no, he has not really made a comeback, because this movie is pretty tedious to watch. I am being kind now…
This movie is not such a laughable disaster as “The Last Face”, from 2016, but it does come close. Especially the many flashbacks destroy any bond this story might have had in the original novel, which I did not read.
Filming a book is very often a recipe for disaster, because when the director wants to tell everything from the original book, one often gets a movie that is simply not coherent or enticing, let alone mesmirizing. This movie is all over the place…
Not any good? Well, the daughter of Sean Penn surely can act well. It is beautifully shot. But in the end this movie is really artsy fartsy and tedious. I never really got into the story nor into the main characters…simply disappointing…