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Flag Day


Stars: Sean Penn, Dylan Penn, Katheryn Winnick, Josh Brolin, Jadyn Rylee, Regina King, Dale Dickey, Eddie Marsan, Norbert Leo Butz, James Russo, Bailey Noble

Director: Sean Penn

This could have ben a moving portrait of self-delusion and a fractured upbringing, but deficiencies in pacing, scripting and direction make the film a depressing watch. And its narrative is quite hard to follow.

Jennifer (Rylee) and her younger brother grow up in near-poverty with a loving but often absentee father (Sean Penn) and a loving but alcoholic mother (co-producer Winnick). Father is frequently off on some harebrained scheme which usually ends badly. Meanwhile Ma takes up with another man, who attempts to rape a 17-year-old Jennifer (Dylan Penn) who, now into drugs, leaves home and goes to live with her reprobate father.

He makes a fruitless attempt to earn a nine-to-five living, but eventually finds his true vacation in forgery, printing 22 million dollars' worth of notes and spending 50,000 of them. There is, of course, a tragic ending, but not for Jennifer who becomes a writer and investigative journalist.

Melodrama is allowed its head far too often in the grim tale, while director Penn doesn't help his own cause by contributing a twitchy performance that fails to win any real sympathy.

David Quinlan

Canada 2021. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour by Company 3.
109 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 22 Jan 2022