Sean Penn has been kicked at the Cannes festival for his last two works as a director: the corny and false I will say your name (2016), starring Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem, and the family drama Flag’s day, which opens in Spanish cinemas. The latter is surely not a totally contemptible film or object of anger … if you see it at home on any given Sunday afternoon; perhaps not if you go to theaters without expecting much more than an American independent air product to take to your stomach (and into oblivion) during the weekend. Now, both Penn and the contest itself are to blame for the fact that something so insignificant deep down – no matter how much the director’s pretenses escape each shot, rather than his intentions – sneaks into the official section of the temple where a good part of the best cinema in the world is presented every year.
In the course of the first minutes of projection of Flag’s dayBased on real events, you run the risk of thinking that the quarrelsome attitude of the official Cannes kickers was unfair. There is a certain style in the staging, a spectacular photograph in its beauty of contrasted colors and in its grainy texture, some very beautiful night shots and a very respectable desire to get out of the ordinary. Of course, the story does not just flow after the prologue set in 1992, with a young woman who, before the police, receives tragic news of the crimes of her beloved father, which gives way to a long flashback which takes up almost all the footage. Then the short sequences and supposedly familiar intensity accumulate, in their love, their tenderness and their drama, with little text, a lot of music and an excess of shouting, but the story is sheltered by Penn’s formal resources. At first, showy; later, cumulative; finally, tiresome by reiteration and because, contradicting the flight from the conventional, they become so commonly used in the cinema indie American of the last 30 years that inevitably fall into the cliché.
Flag’s day It speaks above all of the legacy, of the sack of stones that remains on the back of a defenseless daughter after having lived with an alcoholic mother with whom she does not want to be and with a friendly, cranky, affectionate, liar, impulsive, reckless, less mysterious father of what is intended and a charming thief, whom he does not stop loving. It also speaks, emphasizing the title and the message of the country’s idiosyncrasy, the dark side of the American dream, the dark side of the entrepreneurial culture associated with the United States since the time of the pioneers. Penn, a magnificent actor, has no trouble getting into the skin of his fatherly character. His daughter Dylan (and also actress and director Robin Wright) has cinematic beauty and, despite being still in its infancy, interpretive tables.
However, Director Penn wants to do too many things all the time, particularly in the first 45 minutes. From the remarkable The oath (2001), based on the novel by Friedrich Dürrenmatt that has already adapted the Spanish The bait, his career has been in decline due to his stubbornness with supposedly artistic details. The beautiful music of Frédéric Chopin and the beautiful songs of Glen Hansard and Eddie Vedder end up illustrating a film with an infuriating tendency towards adornment, of bucolic and empty super 8mm images, of prim shots with hands caressing wheat fields between the sunsets. . Artists can have a lyrical aura, be possessors of a poetic universe within a solid work. But it is almost impossible to be brilliant in every verse, in every shot. And Penn is not.
Direction: Sean Penn.
Interpreters: Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Regina King, Josh Brolin.
Gender: drama. EE UU, 2021.
Duration: 107 minutes.
Premiere: January 5.
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