Antwone Fisher
3 out of 5 stars
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For his directorial debut, Washington tackles this impressive autobiographical script about an angry young man facing up to his childhood demons and the huge chip on his shoulder. As a sailor, Antwone (Luke) is always in trouble for fighting with his shipmates, so he's ordered to spend time with the base's psychiatrist, Davenport (Washington). But it takes him a long time to calm down even enough to speak, let along trace his bitter, orphaned upbringing, which is punctuated with both physical and sexual abuse ... at the hands of women. Meanwhile, he is trying to move ahead in life, getting to know a beautiful young Naval officer (Bryant) and charming Davenport's frustrated wife (Richardson).

Washington wisely avoids manipulating the film's more sensationalistic elements and concentrates on the human story at the centre. This makes the film feel both classy and intensely involving, even as it milks the emotion rather shamelessly. Luke delivers a powerful performance that grabs us right at the start and carries us through; he never hits a false note, making this young man both believable and engaging. And Washington keeps a quiet distance, never upstaging him while creating a memorable character all his own. There are very heavy echoes of Good Will Hunting in the shrink-thaws-patient structure, especially in editing that makes each session look like it lasts about three minutes, never really touching on the anger management issues that started everything to begin with. And the film does get slightly preachy when it touches on important themes like African-American history, racism and abuse. But you can hardly blame it, when the material is this strong, important and true! This is an artfully made film that actually has the emotional power to get to us. Bring Kleenex.

cert 15tbc adult themes, violence, language 12.Nov.02 lff

dir Denzel Washington
scr Antwone Fisher
with Derek Luke, Denzel Washington, Joy Bryant, Salli Richardson, Earl Billings, Kevin Connolly, Rainoldo Gooding, Stephen Snedden, Novella Nelson, Yolonda Ross, De'Angelo Wilson, Viola Davis
release US 20.Dec.02; UK 16.May.03
Fox
02/US 1h57

Hi boys. Antwone introduces his girlfriend to his shrink (Luke, Bryant, Washington)....

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send your review to Shadows... shadows Lynda Marklew, Essex: "Liked the film because it was a true story, which proved you don't have to end up either in jail or on drugs just because you've had a rough ride. Gives us hope for the human race! Goes to prove you can change things for the better if you are determined enough! An inspiration!" (27.Oct.03)
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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