Sean Penn’s filmography as a director began “strongly” with “Strange Blood Ties” and two powerful films at the service of Jack Nicholson such as “Crossing the Dark” and “The Oath.” Films where the staging was subordinated to the story with methodical, classic-style directions and a host of convincing actors. The problem begins with his most remembered feature film “Into the Wild” about an excessive character who decides to leave his life in the city and emigrate to Alaska living in that harsh land, full of dangers and adverse weather conditions but free and outside of civilization. Something with which Werner Herzog would have built an excessive and solid product but that in Penn’s hands became an overrated, pretentious, boring film, almost two and a half hours long and with airs of transcendence in independent cinema counting, even , featuring Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder on its soundtrack. The fact is that “Into the wild” had some success with the public and Penn signed up to narrate the progressive cause in the horrific “I will say your name.”
Fortunately, “El día de la bandera” is not as unsuccessful as “Diré tu nombre” but it is still anchored in an “indie” way of filming, with too many “voices in off”, folk and pop songs wrapped in slow motion, with different grains of celluloid and a montage halfway between a car television commercial when it wants to show the freedom of travel and the ways of narrating when trying to film with a low budget but wanting to shoot something more or less transcendental. An example comes at the beginning when we see that supposedly unconnected images are shown under Chopin’s piano but that serve as a metaphor for what they are showing us, as happened in “The Tree of Life” by Terrence Malick (where Penn had a prominent place). within the cast). Apart from Malick, you can also see the ways of another of the authors with whom he has worked, such as the exalted and empty Alejandro G. Iñárritu (remember that he starred in “21 grams”, one of the greatest torments that the down below has witnessed, and above, signatory in his cinephile life). This ensures that “Flag Day” alternates moments of interest with others where the seams of the script by “Jez Butterworth” adapting Jennifer Vogel’s memoirs are noticeable. A story of fall and redemption about a young woman, marked by her disastrous parents. Especially the father figure, a currency counterfeiter and bank robber who marks his daughter’s career, until she manages to get out of the harmful paternal influence to start her life at the university, fulfilling her dream of being a journalist.
High cast, with the discovery of Dylan Penn who fulfills his role (although the script in a show of supposed intensity makes him shout excessively, creating some antipathy). Dylan is the daughter of Sean Penn and Robin Wright, with whom she is quite similar and who now seems to want to start a career in film. He is accompanied by his father (in real life and in fiction) and some renowned sidekicks, with people like Josh Brolin or Katheryn Winnick (who still hasn’t managed to get rid of her Lagertha from “Vikings”).
“The day of the flag” tells us about freedom, about chasing dreams but also about having “feet on the ground” because there is a risk of becoming that man born on July 4 who says (wishes) that all splendors in the United States are to celebrate your birthday. Sean Penn has signed a film with a vocation for transcendence but due to its pretentiousness, with so much slow motion with elongated songs, filters, voiceovers and supposed deep reflections, it will soon be forgotten. In principle, like almost all of his filmography, although some of us fondly remember those first productions with Jack Nicholson.