I Am David (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Adapted from Anne Holm's 1963 novel of the same name, I Am David is a family adventure film from writer/director Paul Feig, one of the creators of the short-lived, cult-favorite television dramedy Freaks and Geeks. Ben Tibber stars as David, a boy who, with the help of his friend Johannes (James Caviezel), escapes from a Bulgarian prison camp and begins a harrowing journey that leads him to Denmark via Italy. I Am David also stars Joan Plowright, Maria Bonnevie, and Silvia De Santis.
PG (for thematic elements and violent content)
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Ben Tibber
as David
Jim Caviezel
as Johannes
Hristo Shopov
as The Man
Paco Reconti
as Giovanni
Paul Feig
as American Man
Lucy Russell
as American Woman
Maria Bonnevie
as David's Mother
Robert Syulev
as Angelo
Shaila Rubin
as Vineyard Owner
Elisabetta Bartolomei
as Woman at Party
Krassimir Radkov
as Party Guest
Nikola Rudarov
as Store Owner
Enrico Vecchi
as Grocer
Malin Krastev
as Policeman
Krassimir Kutzuparov
as Camp Officer
Matt Patresi
as Swiss Border Guard
Ivan Nestorov
as Swiss Policeman
Clem Tibber
as Young David
Deyan Machev
as Party Guest
Adrian McCourt
as David's Father
Panayot Tzanev
as Quarry Guard
Dobrin Dossev
as Border Guard
Maxim Genchev
as Policeman
Stefan Shteref
as Bulgarian Officer
Valeri Yordanov
as Bulgarian Soldier
Nikolai Kipchev
as Truck Driver
Stephen Antonie Shteref
as Communist Protester
Paraskeva Djukelova
as Young Mother
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Critic Reviews for I Am David

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (10)

Clearly, huge tankers of disbelief must be suspended in a sea of goodwill to get into the spirit of the film.

Full Review… | December 8, 2004
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

The film is marred by too many coincidences, but there are a couple of twists at the end that tug at the heartstrings and leave you with a warm feeling.

December 3, 2004
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

It's not lack of a strong story that keeps I Am David from taking off. Blame a straightforward approach that makes the movie feel too much like an after-school special.

December 3, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

Feig's neorealist approach to the look of the film might work better if he didn't fill it with so many coincidences and melodramatic flourishes.

Full Review… | December 3, 2004
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

I know, I know, I'm supposed to get sentimental about this heart-warming tale. But I couldn't believe a moment of it, and never identified with little David.

Full Review… | December 3, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Manipulative though it is, it doesn't generate much real emotion.

Full Review… | December 2, 2004
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for I Am David

Not exactly terrible, but easily forgettable.

Dillon Lupky
Dillon Lupky

Super Reviewer

The story sounds interesting on paper and does succeed in grabbing your interest in the initial moments. But over-drama replaces action and adventure as the story unfolds. I've no problem with some emotional quotient, but the film goes completely overboard its genre and loses its track. The melodrama gave the feeling of "been there, seen it all", and not in a pleasant manner. Having said that, I'd like to add that unlike "Julia's Eyes", it didn't make my head spin as its after-effects either.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

This film's two strengths are the harrowing nature of its subject matter and the rather well-constructed reveal at the end. After all, the concept that a young boy was able to escape a Communist concentration camp and journey as far as he did is rather remarkable. But whereas 127 Hours succeeded in at least reaching for a more expansive theme, I Am David can only retreat to shallow, aphoristic moralizing. Throughout the film, the writers give us benign supporting characters, whose intentions David constantly - but I guess understandably - misinterprets. The filmmakers scream at David throughout that people are basically good, and we're supposed to delight when he listens. Such themes may be inspiring on the Lifetime network, but I for one think the human condition is far more complex than this film gives it credit for. Additionally, Ben Tiller, in the eponymous role, plays one or two notes throughout the film, and even these belie any complexity in his character. I understand that he's young, but check out the level of acting Elijah Wood was able to rise to at a similar age in Radio Flyer or The War, two flawed movies, but Wood is excellent in them. Finally, there is a hint of anti-upper-class bias. Aside from the bully brother, what is the difference between the family and Italy and Joan Plowright's character? Both offer David assistance in seemingly generous, pure ways, but the upper-class family is ultimately rejected without a good explanation. Overall, the film's heart is on its sleeve, but it becomes bogged down in cliche melodrama.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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