Antwone Fisher

Antwone Fisher


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Antwone's story is written by the man himself. You don't get more personal than that.

In a world complicated by colour and prejudice, it brings hope. Cynics will point out the obvious flaws in the autobiographical construct. When feelgood feels better, there must be a sales pitch. In Antwone's case, it's the navy or the benefits of therapy, or the love of a good woman.

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What makes Antwone Fisher, the film, rise above its roots in sentimentality are Derek Luke's performance and Denzel Washington's absolute conviction as director. Without belief, there would be nothing left but tears.

Fisher was born in prison, two months after his father was murdered. His mother abandoned him and he was brought up in a foster home in Cleveland, where he was beaten and sexually abused.

After running away and spending time in reform school, he joined the navy. The expression "nothing going for you" might have been coined for him. Still a virgin because of his sexual hangups, angry at life and especially his foster mother, shy and aggressive, with minimal social skills, he was one brooding black boy, waiting to explode.

He is sent to Lewis Bartholomew (Washington), the navy psychiatrist, for assessment after yet another violent incident and it is this relationship that sows the seeds of recovery. It is a hard and difficult journey, since Antwone refuses to talk, being suspicious of kindness, that could so easily have become entangled in its own compassion.

Washington's integrity is steadfast. He refuses to quicken the pace or throw in a sweetener. This is a powerful story. Luke remains edgy and difficult. For those who judge this movie as US Navy propaganda, there are many more who will take courage from it.

Reviewed on: 16 May 2003
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A man comes to terms with his painful past.
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Director: Denzel Washington

Writer: Antwone Fisher, based on the book by Antwone Fisher

Starring: Derek Luke, Malcolm David Kelley, Cory Hodges, Denzel Washington, Joy Bryant, Salli Richardson, Leonard Earl Howze, Kente Scott, Kevin Connolly, Rainoldo Gooding, Novella Nelson

Year: 2002

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: USA


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