Written and directed by Jocelyn Towne, the moving I Am I presents a refreshing spin on both the amnesia and daddy issues genres.
On the occasion of her mother Sarah’s funeral, Rachel (Towne) discovers that her long-lost father, Gene (Kevin Tighe), is alive, in an assisted living home, and is an amnesiac who believes that it’s 1979 and that he’s still the young man who abandoned his family.
When Gene refuses to believe that Rachel is not actually Sarah, Rachel goes with it, dressing and role-playing as her 1970s-era mother in order to get to know her father.
I Am I is a remarkably assured debut for director Towne, especially since she’s onscreen the majority of the time, and her script eschews the rules of the standard Hollywood amnesia plot, instead following its own internal logic while not shying away from the darker implications of its premise. (Jason Ritter’s turn as Gene’s kindly orderly is a nice turn as well, as opposed to the more stereotypical mean orderly.)
A rumination on the malleability of memory, family, and identity, I Am I also breaks conventions by ending at exactly the right moment, not going on a frame longer than is necessary. Towne clearly knows who she is, and what she’s doing.