I Am Sam

Jessie Nelson (US, 2001, 132 min.)

In this film known more for its soundtrack of Beatles songs covered by everyone from Rufus Wainwright to Sheryl Crow, Sean Penn plays a mentally retarded man fighting for custody of his daughter. He enlists the help of hot-shot lawyer Rita Harrison (more Beatles references), played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who reluctantly takes him on as a client.

Every year for her birthday, he takes his daughter Lucy Diamond (yet another Beatles reference) to a photobooth and they snap a few pictures. We first see them when Lucy is only a year old, but over the course of the film, we see photo strips from over the course of a few years. She uses them in a school art project, and we even see a drawing she did of one of the strips at her birthday party.

When Lucy runs away in embarrassment one afternoon, dad knows to find here - where else? - at the photobooth. And when he needs Rita's help, he shows her the photos to convince her to take his case.

Contributed by Brian

Sam and a young Lucy in a very nicely-lit photobooth.
Another pose.
And a nice smile, though Lucy still seems implacable.
Some real photobooth pictures come out of the machine, but they come close to matching what we just saw in the previous scene. Why is Lucy on the left side in the photo, when she's on the right in the previous shot?
One of the photos from that strip, as well as photos from one of Lucy's more recent birthdays, graces an art project on the wall in Lucy's classroom. The girl in those middle-years shots is only ever seen in these photos. She should be credited as "girl in photobooth photos from third birthday."
In the same art project, the most recent set of photos from Lucy's birthday session.
As Sam tells everyone to be quiet for Lucy's surprise birthday party, we see a drawing which seems to be adapted from one of their photo strips. Next to a poster of John Lennon, of course.
After Lucy runs out, Sam knows to find her at the photobooth, and we see her legs dangling off the stool.
When the police approach the booth, Lucy runs out the other side.
Balloon in hand, she turns the corner, with a cop in chase.
Sam pulls out a few folded strips from the photobooth to show Rita, as she struggles through her high-powered hissy-fit of a busy day. She's out of touch with reality, best expressed on film by a tirade directed at her hapless assistant.
He wants to show her the photos, and she doesn't have the time.
I'm not sure where it came from, but this is the photo strip Lucy took on her sixth birthday, as she was interrupted by the cop, who appears in the second frame.