review for Sam the Man on AllMovie

Sam the Man (2000)
by Brian J. Dillard review

Although it failed to find cinematic distribution, this low-key, well-observed indie drama deserves the wider audience it received on cable television. Full of believable, bohemian Manhattanites spouting witty dialogue and engaged in wryly humorous situations, the film is short on melodrama and long on shrewd observations about human nature. The script often veers into outright cynicism, but its easy humor and essential intelligence leaven even its most bilious moments. Often underutilized elsewhere, Fisher Stevens makes a compelling anti-hero and Annabella Sciorra a wonderfully dignified wronged woman. Meanwhile, the absurdly rich supporting cast fills almost every scene with familiar faces and fine performances. The production values occasionally belie the film's modest budget, but inventive camera work -- as when a series of still photos that figure prominently in the plot are cleverly used to advance that plot -- demonstrates the care and craftsmanship with which director Gary Winick and his crew approached the project. A real treasure that lingered too long on the festivals-only circuit, Sam the Man offers further proof that Winick is a director to watch.