The film "Sam I Am" tells the tale of a mentally challenged man with the intellectual ability of a seven or eight-year-old child. Sam has been raising a young girl, named Lucy, after his favorite Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" since the young woman was an infant. Sam is a single parent and the girl's biological father, but no longer has any contact with the girl's mother, a homeless woman who abandoned both Sam and the girl at birth, alleging that she only slept with a retarded man out of a desire for a warm bed for a night.
Because Lucy has been experiencing social and intellectual difficulties at school, despite her gifted status, the authorities have taken the girl from the man's custody. Sam wishes to obtain permanent custody of his biological daughter, despite his admitted intellectual limitations. He -- and the film's narrative text and plot -- asserts that in the words of the Beatles' famous song, "all you need is love." Although the film "I am Sam" presents an almost unremitting statement about the ability of Sam's character, despite his intellectual difficulties, to weather any adversity, it is important to remember that such a sunny view of life does not always prove valid in every assessment in real life of a mentally retarded patient and parent. Thus, it is interesting to look at the Sam of the film through the eyes of a social worker as well as a sympathetic viewer.
The individual, Sam, is a mentally retarded or challenged man with a seven-year-old daughter he wishes to obtain custody of, in the best interests of himself and the child according to his assertion and the assertion of his pro bono attorney.
Sam is resilient and selfless, as is evident by his desire to obtain custody for the girl, sacrifice economically for the young woman's survival as well as his own. He strives to overcome his disability, and has endeavored to incorporate himself into society through sharpening his job skills. Also, he is socially approachable and open to receive assistance and has a network of relationships outside of his own apartment. However, when initially frightened by a sexual encounter with a homeless woman he at first seems to wish to abandon his responsibility to her out of fear. He does not, but he does socially withdraw from showing affection towards her, and the encounter indicates a level of emotional immaturity it is uncertain Sam has overcome. Moreover, the seriousness of this encounter is underlined as it results in the woman's pregnancy and the birth of Lucy. But Sam did own up to his responsibility -- he did accompany the homeless woman to the hospital when she gave birth, although she soon abandoned Sam and the daughter of their union. Sam's willingness to deal with this setback, however, emerges as testimony to deal with the inevitable loss and grief that come with normal social life, and are necessitated by fatherhood in general.
Physical strengths and limitations
Sam has the full physical capacity of a man of his age, even though he does not possess the comparative mental capacities. He does not always restrain these physical impulses, as is evident in his sexual encounter with the homeless woman, which, though willing and normal in its nature, was conducted without birth control and without appreciation of the full consequences of the action, namely the woman's pregnancy.
Cognitive skills or limitations
Sam has tested on the level of an eight or seven-year-old child intellectually and is raising a seven-year-old girl. It is difficult for him to engage in higher-level abstract thinking, or long-term thinking on the level of planning, as is often essential when raising a child. Lucy Diamond, the child, is intellectually above average. This places her at an advantage in manipulating her father, and also encourages her to hem in her intelligence at school, for fear of overcoming her father's intellectual abilities. Sam's limitations as a parent lie in the fact that Lucy will have to cope with the difficulty of overcoming one's parent's limitations, which most children have to in middle adulthood, as a child, much like the parent of a terminally ill parent must cope with the parent's physical limitations earlier than other children.
Sam works at the popular Starbucks coffee chain as a barista. His habits are regular, normal for one of his age group, and Lucy's school routine is incorporated into his own working life and routing.
Besides his talents and enthusiasms regarding music, especially the music of the "Beatles," Sam has a wonderful way of 'connecting' with other people, hence his success as a waiter or 'barista,' despite his occasional difficulty remembering drinks and condiments for coffee. Lucy seems to provide him with a reason for coping with life, getting out of bed, and meeting challenges bravely and effectively.
Problem solving skills, etcetera
Given the limits of his situation, the unexpected nature of his status as a parent, and his economic, emotional, and intellectual limitations, Sam seems to be coping surprisingly well with his situation as a father, although the situation causes the girl Lucy some difficulties at school. She is teased because of her father, and does feel conflict between her status as Sam's daughter and a gifted young woman, refusing to read for example, to limit her progress in relation to her father's permanent disability. However, it is worth remembering many children engage in such regressive behavior when threatened with a younger sibling's affection and needs -- for example, bed-wetting after the birth of a sibling.
The film asks, what constitutes an appropriate family structure for a child like Lucy and of Lucy's age group?
Nature of the family
Sam has the intellectual level of an eight-year-old, and wishes to be the caretaker of a child of seven.
Sam would be classified as a single parent, given the fact that Lucy's mother abandoned the girl at birth. He is Lucy's biological father.
Two parent traditional
The foster care system currently offers (or is forcing, depending on one's view of the situation) the single father Sam the option of giving custody of Lucy to a more traditional, two parent family who wishes to mentor and foster the girl's development. This alternative structure is composed of two parents with normal cognitive abilities. Sam is currently fighting this legal decision, as he wishes to remain the caretaker of the child
Sam does possess what could be classified as a social network or a support system which including several other mentally friends of a similar demographic group as Sam. Sam also has a nearby cognitively normal but socially reclusive neighbor who approves of Sam's capacity as a human being and a friend. Sam also has a very supportive employer, and many other people in the community gives evidence of the changing attitudes society, fostering inclusion and tolerance that speaks well for Lucy's as well as Sam's future.
The culture of American life endorses independence in the mentally challenged, but views parenthood of 'normal' children by the mentally challenged with some reservations.
Sam believes that all you need is love, and love will and can conquer all, even though he does not participate in a formal religious belief community, such as a local church.
Sam values the connection, purpose, and direction Lucy brings to his life, and values his own independence and competence as a human being and as a father. He wants Lucy to learn, even if she is experiencing some initial reluctance at the process.
Sam lives in an urban environment, in an apartment, with Lucy. The setting is communal, in…