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Flag Day? More Like Bring Your Daughter to Work Day

Posted by December 1st, 2021 No Comments »

Flag Day (2021)
Directed by Sean Penn
Starring Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Katheryn Winnick & Josh Brolin

We know Sean Penn can direct. He proved this with his first three films: The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995) and The Pledge (2001). With his next – Into the Wild (2007) – he wowed critics and proved he could deliver financial success as well. This time around, Penn attempted to reach a mass audience with a father/daughter film costarring his daughter, Dylann. Did he succeed?

Flag Day starts in the 1970’s and the set design and costumes make it feel very authentic. Editing tricks make portions of the first act resemble old 8mm footage. The young actress playing our protagonist does a great job at conveying the highs and lows of living with a mentally unstable father and an addict mother. Unfortunately, as soon as Jennifer Vogel is no longer played as a 6-year-old the film falls apart. Is it the lack of believability that Dylan Penn is playing a gothy teenager in the 80’s? Maybe. Is it her lack of acting skills in comparison to Katheryn Winnick, who plays her mother? Most likely.

By the time the third act roles around, and Dylan is playing her character in the 1990’s, her interactions with Sean Penn are more believable and she starts to hit her acting stride. But by then the film wraps up, and I was left wondering if it would have been better serviced with another lead actress? Probably…actually, definitely. Dylan Penn may be a competent actress, but she does not have the charisma to carry this film. If her father had backed away from using this film as a vehicle for his daughter and instead used a top tier actress like Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick or Florence Pugh, this film could’ve been great. Instead, it was just good.

If The Indian Runner, The Crossing Guard and The Pledge were all solid Bs, and Into the wild was an A, then Flag Day is a C.

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