Release: January 17, 2003 (wide)
by Kevin Lang
Directed by Denzel Washington, the semi-biographical story of Antwone Fisher was an inspiring film that celebrated the best in the human character. It was finely crafted by a first time filmmaker who seemed anything but new to the task. Denzel Washinton helmed the story like a veteran of the trade, directing a first time film actor, Derek Luke, to an impressive and commendable performance from a screenplay written by the real Antwone Fisher.
For the first twenty minutes or so, the movie started out very similar to 1997's "Good Will Hunting." Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) was sent to see a psychiatrist because of an unruly and defensive disposition that led him to become involved in several fights. It took him a while, but he soon began to open up to Dr. Davenport (Denzel Washington). As he began to reveal the reasons for his attitude and behavior, a journey of healing and a battle to overcome his past began. It was a past that included abuse from his foster parents, as well as other emotionally damaging events. He had never met his real parents. His mother had given birth to him in prison, and a girlfriend of his father murdered his father before Antwone was born.
There were moments in "Antwone Fisher" that rang true, moments like when Dr. Davenport offered Antwone advice before a date. Antwone had expressed how he usually became overly uncomfortable at times when around a girl that he liked. Washington's character told him that it's not just him, but everyone gets the same way. Everyone can relate to moments such as these, and the film was conscious of this throughout, as we journeyed with Antwone.
Although most reviews are fair to positive for "Antwone Fisher," I've unavoidably read several that weren't so approving of the film, calling it too sentimental and without any real surprises. I never attack another's opinions in my reviews or in general, and I don't plan on starting here. However, this was the kind of movie that makes you almost automatically look at your own life, and examine your own triumphs and shortcomings. Depending on the person, this may leave uncomfortable feelings in some, leaving them with indifferent attitudes about the film.
Or maybe yet again, those specific critics feel that the film was a little too mainstream, wanting to only praise the limited releases that most people don't see, so they can feel that they have a more unique voice. Whatever the case, they're entitled to their opinion, and we're entitled to ours.
was a film that didn't just unfold on a screen in front of the audience.
It spoke to us with a voice that was hard to ignore. It wouldn't surprise
me if the film doesn't receive a nomination for best picture or best director,
although it deservedly should, at least for best picture. It might not
be edgy enough, elaborate enough, or have that biting sense of morally
corrupt realism that the Academy often praises. It's an emotionally moving
film with a good plot. Life isn't like that. Right Academy? Oh, but wait,
it was based on a true story...
"Antwone Fisher" Review written January 14, 2002, CTF.
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