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Cinema and Drama

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Student Question

In I am Sam, how do Sam's and Brad's communication skills and behaviors differ? At what age might Lucy have realized her intellectual advancement over Sam?

Quick answer:

In terms of communication skills, there is no real difference in the way that Brad and Sam speak to one another. There is a level of communication that exists. In terms of Lucy's growing intelligence, it becomes clear at a young age that she is surpassing her father in intelligence. Sam has friends and support networks that help him in his fight for custody of Lucy.

Expert Answers

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In terms of communication between Sam and Brad, there is no real or definable difference between the way that both speak with one another.  The intent is to communicate how Sam and Brad both have people around them. There is a communication that is present between them, making it clear that they understand one another.  Communication is the process by which one is able to effectively convey ideas and thoughts to another person.  Sam and Brad are able to partake in communication.  While some viewers might not be able to see their communication as perhaps the same communication in which they engage, there is communication between both men.  While Sam might be able to behaviorally operate on a bit of a more advanced level, the reality is that there is communication between both men.

Despite this, it becomes clear that Lucy understands very quickly that she was surpassing her father in intelligence. Lucy's questions at an early age, reflective of maturation, could never be answered.  Questions such as, "Do I look like you or mommy?" or "Daddy, where does the sky end," or "Why is the sun orange," or ones that never receive any answer that she sees as making sense.  At the earliest of ages, Lucy understands that she is ahead of her father's intelligence.  It is for this reason that she and Sam engage in a confrontation about reading the word on the page. She does not want to read it for fear of being smarter than her father. This is something that comes out at the parent/ teacher conferences, when the teacher tells Sam that Lucy is "holding back" in displaying her intelligence.  It is understood that she is doing this because she does not want her intelligence to move beyond her father's.  

Certainly, friends and support networks play a large role in Sam's fight for custody.  It is critical that Sam's narrative is one rooted in a collective notion of identity.  The filmmakers understand that it is important to make Sam's character appealing to a broad base of audience understanding if he is social and able to garner support from others. Whether it is from his agoraphobic neighbor or even through his neurotically repressed lawyer, Sam has people around him that support his cause because they believe in him.  When Rita says that  ''I think I've gotten more out of this relationship than you have," it reflects how Sam is capable of sustaining relationships.  The filmmakers understand they must depict Sam as one who has friends that will support him and is capable of reciprocating their friendship.  When Sam is shown to preserve and enhance such connections, it also makes the audience recognize that Sam can be a caring father.  To show Sam as appreciative of the efforts of those around him who are fighting for custody of Lucy and to show that he can display care towards them reflects how Sam's emotional intelligence. As with his love of Beatles' songs and knowledge, Sam's emotional reciprocity towards those who help him in his custody helps to make him a compelling character and enables him to be viewed as a loving father.

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