Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) has a hair trigger temper that keeps him in trouble. So much trouble that it is threatening his career in the Navy. As a last ditch effort, his Commanding Officer orders him to take a psych evaluation or face getting kicked out of the service. It is here that he crosses paths with Dr. Davenport (Denzel Washington).
At first Antwone won't open up to Dr. Davenport, but once he does, there is no turning back. For the first time he is open and honest about his childhood - the source of his anger. His father was killed before he was born, his mother gave birth to him while she was in jail and he was immediately placed into foster care.
Eventually, he lands in the home of the Tate's - a storefront preacher and his wife. Mrs. Tate (Novella Nelson) is a horrible, horrible woman. She beats him within an inch of his life for the slightest infractions. She belittles him and refuses to call him anything, but "nigger". If this isn't enough the Tate's have a female boarder who molests him on a regular basis. His only solace is his best friend, Jesse, but before long Jesse is taken from him too.
After hearing all of this Dr. Davenport determines that the only thing that is really going to help Antwone is to confront his past and try to find his mother. He needs to feel empowered and he needs some questions answered. Antwone doesn't want to bother with all of that. He has taken to Dr. Davenport and his wife, looking up to them as parental figures and he has a girlfriend, plus he is starting to get his anger under control. But it's just a Band-Aid, he really needs to get to the root of his problems and he can only do that by going back to where it all started.
Wow, what a powerful movie - and very difficult to watch. Watching a child being abused is always hard to watch, but I wouldn't have missed this movie for the world. Derek Luke is phenomenal even if he does tend to over act a bit. In my opinion there wasn't one weak link in the entire cast. Even the actors that were on screen for only 3 minutes made those a memorable 3 minutes. The screenplay was solid. I found a few shots that Mr. Washington set up to be a bit odd, but for the most part his directorial debut was outstanding.
I do have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that the images of some of the black folks were so negative, but this is a true story and it is Antwone's and I can't expect him to sugar coat his story because of my racial sensibilities. And my lord, how did he survive it all?
This is a heavy movie, but worth it. Check it out.
An emotionally powerful tear jerker that rips your heart out, but when all is said and done it leaves you smiling and triumphing with Antwone Fisher.
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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2002
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