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I Am Sam
Transcript of I Am Sam
The Service Provider
The Role of the Court:
Issues raised by the movie:
Realistic or Not?
Treatment of the mentally impaired by the court system
The care of children of the mentally impaired
Is it appropriate to have a child raised by someone of lower intelligence?
In the case of this movie, Sam is not the only character portrayed with mental illness. He has many friends suffering from similar mental illnesses and developmental disorders. Thus, the film develops the definition of mental illness to be an illness of the mind that somehow impairs an individual to relate to society and societal norms.
The portrayal of mental illness in the movie is very realistic in that it depicts individuals with mental retardation as dealing with very common struggles, and forming many of the same familial and communal bonds that we are accustomed to seeing.
With Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning
(2001) Directed by Jessie Nelson
319- Unspecified mental retardation
An overall review
I am Sam
Sam, played by Sean Penn, is a mentally retarded attempting to raise his only daughter, Lucy (Dakota Fanning). Lucy quickly exceeds her father's intelligence and, after a series of Sam's outbursts, is taken from his custody and placed in foster care. At the recommendation of his friends, Sam acquires a lawyer by the name of Rita Williams (Michelle Pfeiffer) to help him fight his case in court. Despite a mental breakdown in court during which he himself is convinced that he will no longer be able to care for his daughter, Lucy's foster parents give up custody in the end, and Sam is given full custody of the child.
I Am Sam
The role of the service provider is minimal, although Sam is mandated to undergo psychological evaluation to determine his mental health. Although the psychiatric evaluation is not completely portrayed, the manner in which the psychiatrist speaks to Sam is incredibly demeaning. Ultimately, the service provider used the knowledge gained from her therapy with Sam to reestablish Sam's inability to be a father.
Accurate Portrayal of Mental Illness
Raises important legal/ethical issues in regards to childcare by someone with mental illness
Film does not end realistically
Service providers in the film seem to have no understanding for Sam's condition
Child protective services
Foster parent system