Sean Penn’s Flag Day Cannes Review With Spoilers

The Flag Day us yet again, one of the most anticipated premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Sean Penn [his 15th film as a director], and starring Sean Penn (John Vogel) and Dylan Penn (Patty Vogel), and Hopper Penn (Nick) – talk about keeping things in a family. ‘Flag Day’ is based on real story of an American journalist Jennifer Vogel whose dysfunctional father-daughter relationships spilled on to the pages of Jezz Butterwort’s script.

Sean Penn and Katheryn Winnick © Rune Hellestad10th July 2021 Rune Hellestad

Sean Penn and Dylan Penn © Rune Hellestad

Flag Day film review with spoilers

The story timeline veers and twists but, put in one straight line, it begins with Patty’s recollections of her early childhood.  When she thought that everything her dad did, he did for her and her brother Nick. The flick is full of montage images of younger-looking – kind of – Sean Penn: celebrating his birthday on Flag Day, fighting with Patty’s mother (Katheryn Winnyk) and living seemingly best life with his new girlfriend Debbie (Bailey Nobel).

Larger than life character, John seemingly had no time for mundane and ordinary. It is not surprise then that all his life he struggled to get ‘a real job’ and preferred to be ‘an entrepreneur’. His ventures included forging in excess of two million US dollars among other things.

Sean Penn Flag Day Film Review with spoilers

Flag Day

Patty’s memories are punctuated by pain of rejection – each time her father ran into problems or wanted to run away from responsibility. She understandably wishes the best for her father and keeps giving him second chances to change, to show up, to be a father. But John’s emotional aloofness and inability to be honest are not something a young woman can change. All her dreams of a healthy relationship come crashing down when John kills himself live on air after a police car chase.

The cinematography of the film is seemingly an attempts to establish intimacy with characters. Handheld shots and super close ups however, fail to create the feeling on intimacy. Dylan Penn in her role of Patty while is mostly doing a great job, at times over-delivers her lines where subtlety would suffice. The narration of a film – Dylan’s voice guiding us through her family’s checkered past – is way too poetic. Which creates a feeling that the script writer was trying ever so hard to string as many metaphors and sound-biteable quotes together as possible. And while Patty’s profession of a journalist would explain some of it, it keeps dragging you out of a story due to total disconnect between the language spoken in a film and the narration.

While the story at the heart of a film is truly moving and at times saddening, is hardly a ground-breaking. Nor it’s told in any ground-breaking way.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sean Penn Flag Day Film Review with spoilers

Ikon London TV is here

Ikon London Media