A wonderful, emotional journey of a film.. the type of film that really leaves you thinking about it for hours afterwards.. the type of heart-wrenching story that had me crying (shhh) at more than one occasion.
Sean Penn's performance is so convincing, moving.. he captures the emotions, movements and relationship with his daughter so perfectly that you forget that there is absolutely nothing wrong with him in real life.
Michelle Pfeiffer really conveys her complex character well, and makes you seriously think about how the world, and you as a person would deal with somebody like Sam. Would you really make the time for him? Finally Dakota Fanning is absolutely incredible as Lucy. The emotion that she stirs within the surrounding characters, but also within the viewer really point to true talent, as she was only about 7 when it was filmed. Her on-screen relationship with Sam is so genuine, so touching, that one cannot help but feel true desperation at their separation.
The filming is very interesting, as it almost shows the viewer how it would feel to be Sam - the filming follows Penn's movements, adding emotional symbolism i.e. When Sam feels frustrated, the camera-work is agitated and jerky, using unusual angles, cuts and so on.
Overall, the film conveys the message that, although there are other things important in life, in parenting, love is definitely the factor that has to be there for anything to work. Everyone has their flaws, even intelligent people such as Pfeiffer's character, and sometimes it takes a simpler mind to see the real truth, and what is needed. Sometimes a father just needs to be with his daughter...and vice versa.