Sean Penn delivered a filmmaking misfire in 2016 with his dramatic flop “The Last Face,” but his directing career gets back on track with “Flag Day.” The true-story crime drama finds Penn directing his daughter, Dylan Penn, who earned strong reviews earlier this month after the movie world premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. While “Flag Day” did not earn the towering acclaim of Penn’s 2007 effort “Into the Wild,” it did get several critics back in Penn’s corner.
The official synopsis for “Flag Day” from MGM reads: “Jennifer Vogel’s father John was larger than life. As a child, Jennifer marveled at his magnetizing energy and ability to make life feel like a grand adventure. He taught her so much about love and joy, but he also happened to be the most notorious counterfeiter in US history. Based on a true story and directed by Sean Penn, ‘Flag Day’ stars Penn and his real-life daughter Dylan Penn in an intimate family portrait about a young woman who struggles to rise above the wreckage of her past while reconciling the inescapable bond between a daughter and her father.”
IndieWire chief critic Eric Kohn gave “Flag Day” a B review out of the Cannes Film Festival, writing, “Sean Penn’s first directorial effort since 2016’s ‘The Last Face’ compensates for that misstep, if only just, with a sweet and rather straightforward father-daughter drama that lays out most of its emotional cards from the first act and offers few surprises along the way. In the process, however, it allows Penn to pass his talent to the next generation, with his daughter Dylan Penn taking the lead in a stirring turn that injects the central family tension with authenticity.”
Kohn adds, “In her first major lead role, Dylan Penn delivers a hard-edged performance steeped in a blend of frustration and simmering rage that eventually gives way to confidence as her character grows up.”
“Flag Day” is opening next month and will jumpstart a major rest of the year for MGM. The studio will be releasing Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s new movie in late November. Anderson’s film launches in limited release and will expand over Christmas.
MGM is opening “Flag Day” in select theaters August 20. Watch the official trailer for the drama in the video below.