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Antwone Fisher /

Rated: PG-13
Starring: Derek Luke, Denzel Washington, Joy Bryant, Salli Richardson, Stephen Snedden
Directed by: Denzel Washington
Produced by: Randa Haines, Todd Black, Denzel Washington
Written by: Antwone Fisher

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

 

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     A handsome directorial debut for actor Denzel Washington, Antwone Fisher succeeds in making a cinematically top-notch, feel-good movie. Washingtonís success is not only limited to his directing, but he can act in this film as well. With a slur of first-timers in the line-up, another incredible performance comes from Derek Luke, who plays Antwone. This is a stylishly well-shot feature, done with excellent skill, and proves that rookies can do just as well as veterans. This year, I gave films by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson the same rating as Antwone Fisher. I am not, by any means, saying that Washington is as knowledgeable as these master-filmmakers, but I am trying to make a point. After spending so much time on various sets, lending his acting talents to several films, Washington learned a lot from some very good directors. His first attempt at making his own flick is nothing short of artful. I wonder what he will have accomplished in twenty years from now.

     Based on a true story, Antwone Fisher tells the miraculous tale of a boyís survival through life. Born in prison, with no one to take care of him, Antwone (Derek Luke) was placed in an adoptions facility. Most people involved in his case expected that when his mother was released from jail, she would retain him, and they would live a normal life together. She never did, though. Young Antwone was adopted by an incredibly mean lady named Mrs. Tate. Along with three other adopted boys, Fisher was physically abused by Mrs. Tate, until she abandoned in him. He was placed back into an adoptions facility, until his eighteenth birthday, when he was released to a homeless shelter. He only stayed there for one night, and then took up life on the street. After sleeping on a few park benches, with only sixty-eight dollars in his pocket, Antwone enrolled in the Navy. His terrible childhood, full of hate and despair, continued to haunt him through his military days. He continuously got into fights with other Navy sailors because of psychological trauma, and was considered for a discharge. His life was changed by one person, though. The psychiatrist he was sent to by the Navy, named Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington).

     Antwone Fisher is full of excellent performances to support the tear-jerking and life-affirming story, written by the real Antwone Fisher, himself. Denzel Washington gives an outstanding performance as Dr. Davenport, and proves that he can act and direct at the same time. Derek Luke provides an incredibly strong debut, which could be referred to as sheer luck. Luke is also in a film coming out very soon called Biker Boyz, which is sure to be a bomb with most critics. But luckily this strong and powerful drama full of perseverance and courage was released before whatís sure to be just awful. I refuse to go into Biker Boyz bias, if I do attend it at all, but I just know that it will be pretty bad.

     There are usually only a few feel-good movies released each year, and in two-thousand-and-two there were two. During the summer, The Rookie hit theatres, and was a knockout on all levels. Antwone Fisher mocks this success, and creates an absolutely astonishing picture, that is full of lively wisdom. Even though the issues presented in Antwone Fisher arenít exactly things that we want to see, we are overjoyed at the triumphant ending. This is one of the few films that I want to see a second time, only for entertainment purposes. This is an admirable exercise in filmmaking, and the emotions that come along with it are wildly watchable.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

 


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