Sean Penn ambitiously directs his children in powerful and unsettling family drama Flag Day

A wrenching, unfiltered gaze into a father-daughter relationship.

Name: Flag Day
Where: In theatres
What: Film, 109 mins.
When: Aug. 27
Genre: Family drama
Why you should watch: Sean Penn stars in and ambitiously directs this stylized family drama that ably captures the pain and elusive allure of an intermittent, lying father who constantly tears at his family’s heartstrings.

Sean Penn and Dylan Penn sitting in a car, looking at each other, in a scene from the movie Flag Day.

In this true story written by an alt-weekly journalist, Penn’s adult daughter Dylan provides a powerful performance as the child determinedly picking through the shards of her father’s broken life as she tries to build her own. Close-cropped shots give the film an intense, unsettling intimacy, not unlike time spent with the inevitably disappointing father depicted here.