Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Denzel
Washington and producer Todd Black; Behind the scenes; 'Meeting
Antwone Fisher' featurette; 'Hollywood And The Navy' featurette;
Scene access; Interactive menus.
THERE are two remarkable stories running through Antwone Fisher,
Denzel Washingtons worthy directorial debut, that of the
eponymous hero himself, and that of the actor who was cast to
Based on the novel, Finding Fish, the official autobiography
of Antwone Fisher, the film is the true story of how an angry
young sailor, on the verge of being booted out for repeated fights,
eventually turns his life around with the guidance of a Navy psychiatrist
- a change of direction which prompts Fisher to search for the
family that abandoned him as a baby.
Washington stars as the psychiatrist in question, and gives a
typically commanding performance, but it is newcomer, Derek Luke,
who is the real eye-opener.
According to movie journal, the Hollywood Reporter, Luke was
discovered while working in a gift shop on the Sony Pictures lot
by Antwone Fisher himself.
The former sailor turned screenwriter had been working on the
lot, as a security guard, when he popped into the gift shop to
make a purchase.
Fisher subsequently brought Luke to the attention of the film's
producers - including Washington, Randa Haines and Todd Black
- who met with him several times, before Black and Washington
then surprised Luke by visiting him at the gift shop to offer
him the coveted role - one which had also been tipped for Will
And the young star repays the faith placed in him with a suitably
impressive star turn, which expertly mixes the frustrated rage
of the young Mr Fisher with a man attempting to find a place for
himself in the world, where he can be at peace with his difficult
The scenes between Luke and Washington, in particular, carry
a strong emotional pull, as the two develop a tentative father-son
relationship which becomes as beneficial to the doctor as it is
to his patient, forcing him to confront what is missing from his
own life, especially in regard to the distance he now feels exists
between himself and his wife.
And Lukes blossoming relationship with model-turned-actress,
Joy Bryant, is also nicely developed, providing the viewer with
something to root for, as part of the completion of Fishers
While there is nothing particularly flashy or sensational about
Washingtons sober direction, it should be applauded for
not pulling on the heart strings too strongly, and for the way
in which it always holds the interest.
Dramas involving personal, inner torment can frequently stand
or fall on whether the leads project the necessary sympathy, but
in the case of Antwone Fisher, the director allows the actors
to take centre stage, and the power of their performances makes
the journey worth taking.
The film, therefore, marks an impressive directorial debut from
a star who never fails to impress.