Film Film

I Am Sam

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 18 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1223
  1. Peter Byrne, senior lecturer in psychiatry
  1. University College, London

    Directed by Jessie Nelson

    On general release in the UK

    Rating: Embedded Image

    No one sets out to make a bad film—it just happens, and I Am Sam is a real mess. Sam (Sean Penn) has moderate learning disabilities and cannot brew coffee or reliably cross town on a bus. This does not prevent him from raising a child (Dakota Fanning) virtually on his own until she turns seven (his mental age) and “outgrows him.” Their lives have been idyllic and invisible until Sam is wrongfully arrested for soliciting. Court proceedings are inevitable: this is America.

    Sam's friends are also “mentally challenged” and some of these are played by actors with learning disabilities, not least Brad …

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