Monday, January 24

Flag Day Review – Sean Penn Proves He Still Has It In An Unrepentant Scammer’s Story | Cannes 2021

Sean Penn … still has it. He may have exasperated audiences with The Last Face, his previous directorial performance at Cannes, a serious drama about the Western aid savior that practically booed him on the red carpet. But as an actor he still has the skills: a fierce male presence, a vulture vigilance that can always break into a sneer or a deadly smile. His seductive direction to the camera is almost unmatched. Plus, as a manager, you know how to put in the horsepower. And so it is demonstrated in this very visible and well done family drama.

Penn directs and stars as a notorious criminal, con artist and counterfeiter John vogel, wanted in the 1990s by the FBI for forging thousands of $ 100 bills at a Minnesota copy shop. His story was told in the memoirs Flim Flam Man: A True Family History, from his daughter, author and journalist Jennifer Vogel. He was a compulsively exuberant and charming man whom she adored but broke her heart by running away from family, spinning endless lies and finally being unable to accept the redeeming love she desperately offered him, an elusive sociopath at last. .

Dylan Penn on Flag Day.
Dylan Penn on Flag Day. Photograph: Allen Fraser © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc – All rights reserved

Sean’s daughter Dylan Penn plays Jennifer and Penn plays the toxic rogue Vogel. It’s a gruesome mix of Ryan O’Neal’s character in 1973’s Paper Moon, Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, with a twist on the failed office furniture supply executive that Penn played in Niels Miller’s movie. 2004 The Assassination of Richard. Nixon. He is a persuasive peddler who is always serious about the portfolio of business opportunities he is selecting. He also loves to show off to his family and of course the kids are delighted with his crazy antics. But having encouraged the children to worship him as a hero, John will disappear overnight when the people he owes money to become too oppressive.

The film shows that his entry-level crime was the one that planted the seed of emotional destruction: setting up supposedly viable businesses like burger joints and then setting them on fire for insurance. Rookie con John Vogel learned that what you had to do with a difficult situation was to burn it all up and get out of there; in fact, any situation is tolerable just because you know it will all go away.

Dylan Penn does well in the role of Jennifer, a young woman who inherited almost all of her father’s destructive habits, such as drinking and drugs, but was saved by her interest in journalism, particularly investigative journalism. And of course John himself is the story of his life – the unrepentant, smiling con artist who believes his own lies and, as his mother believes, has the sentimental right of someone born on Flag Day. We see Penn prancing around in red, white, and blue for his birthday and behaving like it’s everyone’s patriotic duty to give him a break.

The most telling moment comes when Jennifer catches him red-handed, pretending to be talking to a car dealer on the phone, supposedly to buy him a Jaguar, and the promise that this non-existent car is dominating her emotionally. While talking to this imaginary person, Jennifer holds the disconnected phone cord to her face; John stares at him for a moment and then mutters into the microphone, “I’ll call you again …”

Here are some pretty broad emotional strokes and maybe a bit of bombast. But it’s done with some flair.

Flag Day was screened on July 10 at the Cannes film festival and opens on August 20 in the United States.

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