A Father-Daughter Relationship Gets Murky in Jocelyn Towne’s ‘I Am I’

A case of mistaken identity

Jocelyn Towne and Kevin Tighe in I Am I.

Jocelyn Towne and Kevin Tighe in I Am I.

When her mother dies, a woman recognizes an elderly man at the funeral as the long-lost father who deserted her as an infant. Curiosity leads her to his assisted-living facility. He calls her Sara, which was her mother’s name. In fact, he thinks she is her mother. The more she delves, the more she discovers. He suffers from a form Korsakov’s syndrome, a form of retrograde amnesia that means he remembers nothing after the age of 33, and actually believes Rachael is his adored wife, back to pick up the pieces of the great romance they once knew.

I Am I ★★
(2/4 stars)

Written and directed by: Jocelyn Towne
Starring: Simon Helberg, Jason Ritter and Kevin Tighe
Running time: 87 min.

There’s no logic to his world or the mirror in which he sees himself, but for reasons only the author can explain, she plays along. And pretty soon she almost believes it, too. It takes nearly an hour and a half to watch the charade go south. I’m not sure it’s worth the wait.

I Am I is written and directed by Jocelyn Towne, who also plays the leading role. It’s an audacious premise that some might find tasteless, but good actors knock themselves out to make it as palatable as possible—especially character actor Kevin Tighe, who plays the elderly father like King Lear. Rachael’s husband Keith (James Morrison), stepfather Michael (Josh Clark) and stepbrother Seth (Simon Helberg) all warn her about the inevitable fallout, but she’s playing by her deluded father’s rules, thinking it a harmless way to get to know him better. Only her father’s devoted, wise-beyond-his-years caregiver Jonathan (Jason Ritter, giving the film’s best performance) sees how dangerous the relationship can be—for both father and daughter. The finale, which solves nothing, is as repugnant as it is preposterous.