I Am David

"Bad"

I Am David Review


Despite some recognition by minor festivals and to the joy of overprotective mothers, this story of a boy who escapes from a Bulgarian labor camp in 1952 comes as a mostly juvenile effort from people who are into sanitizing reality. Mostly it's unreal, bloodless, and boring, but as a sentimental fable designed not to shock the little ones, it can be considered a safe distraction.

Pre-teen David (Ben Tibber) has grown up a prisoner of fascists running a camp whose purpose appears to be the breaking up of rocks. His sole friend is Johannes (Jim Caviezel), an adult who mentors him as a father figure. When Johannes is shot dead over a stolen bar of soap, David is given instructions on how to escape, where to go, the advice to "trust no one," and a bag of essentials including a compass, a pocket knife, a bar of soap, and a sealed envelope for delivery to whoever meets him at his destination in Denmark.

The episodes of his journey are weakly conceived idealizations by a female author to describe a boy's mind during an escape from evil, as true to life as a fairy tale. That the reality on which it's based was more dangerous and harrowing than its depiction here goes without saying. After days with no food, for example, the traveler comes into a small village where he finds a bakery. The baker inexplicably invites him inside, where, under a promise to return and feed him, he leaves in order to call in the authorities. For a few long minutes, David is surrounded by loaves of bread, but stoically touches none of them. We can imagine what the smell of fresh baking is putting his gastric reactions through, but his hands remain at his sides, obedient, slavish to his do-good nature, and dishonest.

When he sees the baker returning with two officers, does he grab a loaf and run as any starving boy would be expected to do for his own preservation? Apparently, no suggestion of delinquency by our little boy is allowed -- not even at the point of starvation! As an attempt at drama this drivel is more a tract on morality and goodness.

Not helping an essentially tepid script (written by director Paul Feig from a novel by Anne Holm) is the casting of the central character. It is difficult to imagine a less dynamic young actor than Ben Tibber, or one so physically awkward, one-dimensional, robotic, and expressionless. Whatever qualities caused him to be handed a lead role might have been found tenfold in hundreds of compelling Europeans of the same age.

Joan Plowright lends her warm, grandmotherly touch to the scenario in a penultimate episode of similar sentimentality while director-writer Feig unashamedly plays a lost American, demonstrating one more job for which he has little talent. Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) upholds himself best with his signature sensitivity as David's empathetic friend in slavery. In another context, his performance might have seemed to be overdoing it a bit, but here he comes off as downright disciplined.

This is a boy's grand adventure seen through a gauzy feminine filter. The ineptness of the writing is exceeded by the stiff, predictable staging. Everything's controlled, the starving boy is well fed, the situations ever comfortable and unconvincing. Its cocoon of safety and exemplary conduct provides little reason for anyone past high school age to waste their time on it. Get out the Game Boy instead.

Next time you be David and I'll wear the dress.



I Am David

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th November 2004

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 21

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Lauren Levine,

Starring: Ben Tibber as David, as Johannes, as Sophie, Hristo Shopov as The Man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.