A Pair of Poignant, Sensitive Stories
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 09/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This pair of movies shows some of the best things that make us human. These movies can be sad, but the triumph of life in the worst of circumstances reminds us that we can to support each other through those times. The first movie is a must-have; the second is nice to watch, but optional for your home library.
"A Walk to Remember"
We meet Landon Carter (Shane West) at the very beginning of the movie. Landon is one of the "popular" crowd. He and several other teenagers have challenged another teenager to jump into a pool of water, where he immediately becomes injured. I quickly disliked Landon and had him pegged as shallow with too much time on his hands; his only goal was to have fun. During the initial portion of the movie I struggled to keep watching because Landon's character was too stereotypical and shallow. Landon is the kind of person I avoided in high school.
Soon we meet Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore). Jamie is everything that Landon is not. She is serious and focused. She is involved and has goals. It's also immediately apparent that Jamie is considered a geek and is about as far from being popular as a high school person can be. Yet, I found Jamie to be far more interesting than Landon, and once she was introduced I started to become interested in the story.
At first I thought that Landon was going to spend a fair amount of time trying to have sex with Jamie. He started his relationship in just that way. Jamie has a healthy dose of skepticism for the motives of "popular" males and sees his advances for what they are. Jamie intrigues Landon. She is everything he is not. Landon likes her self-assurance, her goals for the future. In spite of his background, he finds himself falling for her.
We are soon deeply involved in the romance between Jamie and Landon. Jamie share's her goals with Landon, some of which he tries to make come true. One of my favorites was Jamie's goal of being in two places at once. Landon figures a cool way of making it happen.
Eventually we find that Jamie has a secret that she must reluctantly share with Landon. Rather than pushing Landon away, Jamie's secret causes Landon to fall so deeply in love with Jamie that the rest of the movie is incredibly, wonderfully beautiful and poignant.
I puzzled for much of the first part of the movie to figure out what this movie was really about. Was it about Landon? Was it about Jamie? Was it about the two of them together? It took me until the end of the movie to realize that the central character was always Landon. Jamie remains the same person from the beginning to the end, a beautiful soul. Landon starts the film as a shallow person, but changes his life to one of purpose by his exposure to Jamie. We see Jamie fill Landon with a sense of resolve that will carry him through the rest of his life.
After having seen so many awful teen movies, it was wonderful to find one that treated teenagers as people with hopes, dreams and goals. Jamie's secret is profound and sad, but Jamie's secret was but one step in Landon becoming a sensitive man with goals of his own. Therein lays the beauty of this movie. It recognizes that all things beautiful require evolution, and the love that Jamie and Landon share evolves naturally versus a single event that pushes the two toward love.
I strongly recommend this movie for teenagers and older family members, avoiding the younger members of the family due to some of the situations and profanity. Just be sure to have a box of tissues handy.
"I Am Sam"
Sean Penn is outstanding as mentally challenged Sam Dawson. Sam has the intelligence of a 7-year-old, which means his 7-year-old daughter, adorable Dakota Fanning playing Lucy Diamond Dawson, is rapidly passing him in intellectual capacity. Events cause "The Authorities" to take Lucy away from Sam. Sam obtains lawyer Rita Harrison, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, to win his daughter back. Diane Wiest plays Annie, a concerned and intelligent neighbor with some bizarre mental problems of her own. Laura Dern plays Randy, a foster parent interested in adopting Lucy because she and her husband can give Lucy a better home and life than Sam.
Before I give you critical comments, understand that I liked this movie. I thought it was uplifting and positive.
I thought Michelle Pfeiffer did a wonderful job. However, in places she was a little over the top. I think that the director had a great actress and should have let her do her job rather than directing her to be unbelievable.
Laura Dern was a serious disappointment. Laura has a lot of ability, but here she mostly provided "looks" of disapproval or approval or whatever. I blame her poor use on the director.
One last negative comment: when Sam got dressed for court in a suit and went to work at Starbucks, I knew he was going to get something on the suit, everyone watching the movie knew it, and the characters in the movie should have known it. Somehow the "intelligent" people around Sam couldn't foresee and prevent the suit from getting dirty. This event makes me wonder who the mentally challenged person in the movie was.
I am not sure what to say about the bobbling camera. There were places where the bobbling was used to try and give you a "real life" feel. In a few places it was distracting. Eventually I got used to it as I became involved with the characters and the story.
Conclusion: I would definitely watch the movie again, though not for a while. Not a "must buy" for me, though if you are into character stories, this movie could be a good one for your collection.