Copyright 1999-2003 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

3BC
Bams' review of
Antwone Fisher
3BC

Fish

Antwone Fisher (2002)
Rated PG-13; running time 117 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Genre: Drama
Official site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/antwonefisher/
IMDB site: http://us.imdb.com/Details?0168786
Written by: Antwone Quenton Fisher (based on his true story)
Directed by: Denzel Washington
Cast: Derek Luke, Malcolm David Kelley, Denzel Washington, Joy Bryant, Salli Richardson, Novella Nelson, De'Angelo Wilson, Yolonda Ross, Earl Billings, Viola Davis, Leonard Earl Howze, Rainoldo Gooding, Vernee Watson-Johnson, Kevin Connolly

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003


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Pardon my spoilage, but if I were In Charge Of Stuff, I'd sentence every Black person who continues to use the evil "N" word (the alternate spelling of which doesn't move me one single bit) to watch Antwone Fisher, and witness for themselves what its use does to Fisher and his brothers - and dare them to keep spewing that ignorant filth.


THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke), a sailor in the U.S. Navy, was given to bouts of explosive anger, inappropriately lashing out at his fellow sailors. When one particular fight led to a confrontation with a superior officer (James Brolin), Fisher was ordered to see Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington), a naval psychiatrist, for an evaluation over three sessions. Reluctant at first to open up to Davenport, Fisher finally let loose a torrent of emotions that helped Davenport understand the horrid events in Fisher's life that led to his state of continuous outrage. Born in prison and taken away from his mother at two months old, with his father killed before Antwone was able to meet him, Fisher was placed into an abusive foster home; and the beatdowns he received, scarred his body as well as his soul.

Through therapy, Fisher grew close enough to Davenport to seek out his advice with Fisher's burgeoning relationship with Cheryl (Joy Bryant). Uncomfortable with this due to some Issues he had with his own wife (Salli Richardson), Davenport realized that what Fisher needed most, was a way to make peace with his own family; what Fisher needed most, was to be healed.


THE UPSHOT
I am intimately acquainted with someone who grew up in a foster home; his home was a damn sight more stable and loving than Antwone Fisher's was, a fact for which I am eternally grateful. But Antwone Fisher isn't about Fisher's battles with an evil foster mother; at least, not only about that. Nor is it only about his ability to find and nurture a loving relationship with a beautiful young woman, or the healing power of forgiveness. It is all these things and much more; in the end, Antwone Fisher is the embodiment of a "feel-good movie".

I found myself rooting for Fisher to succeed in conquering the demons that had tortured his soul for so long, and to find the peace within himself that would allow him to create healthy relationships with others. Rarely have I invested myself so emotionally in a film; Antwone Fisher drew me in so closely, I hated to see the end credits roll.

Newcomer Derek Luke plays Fisher to near-perfection; not due to any elite thespianic skills he possessed, but because he made Fisher and his story seem so incredibly real to me. There were times when director Denzel Washington flipped Fisher's switch too soon, and you could see the actor behind the character; but for the most part, Luke captured Fisher's vulnerability and anguish so incredibly well, I was often moved to tears. The love story between Fisher and Cheryl was especially heartwarming; tender, in a way that is rarely seen on screen between young Black people.

The supporting cast was equally good, even those whose characters made me grit my teeth. Washington, in his actor's hat, was a given; he's played characters like Davenport in the past, and wisely kept his role muted to allow Luke and others to shine more brightly (as well, no doubt, to concentrate more on his role as director). The beautiful model-turned-actress Joy Bryant meshed well with Luke; their characters' love story neither got in the way of the film, nor did it ever feel out-of-place - something that can't be said of a lot of dramas these days. Though I wanted to strangle her character for mistreating young "Twanny" (Malcolm David Kelley), Novella Nelson as Mrs. Tate, left a lasting impression that was hard to shake. Look for Viola Davis in a brief, but key, scene near the end.

Washington, in his director's hat, turns in a solid performance for his first outing. There were a few shots that brought me out of the moment (watch one particular jail scene closely, to see if you spot it too). But though the stiff competition for this year's crop of films probably precludes his being nominated for many awards, as they say in the vernacular, he done good.

As difficult as this movie was to watch at times due to its scenes of abuse and its unflinching depictions of The Evil Men (or more appropriately in this case, Women) Do, Antwone Fisher is the type of film I'd like to hold up to Hollywood filmmakers - especially those who keep trying to spoon-feed us Friday-type pablum - and say "See? This is what you should be trying to create!"


BAMMER'S BOTTOM LINE
Antwone Fisher splendidly illustrates the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity, with brilliant debuts by Derek Luke (star) and Denzel Washington (director).


ANTWONE FISHER:   green

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL: bams@3blackchicks.com    ICQ: 7760005
http://www.3blackchicks.com/

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed through 12/31/02):
Bams' reviews:
Antwone Fisher | Catch Me If You Can | Far From Heaven

The Diva's reviews:
Antwone Fisher


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