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Antwone Fisher (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

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 Washington’s worthy directorial debut, that of the eponymous hero himself, and that of the actor who was cast to play him.

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 Smith.

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 upbringing.

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 Luke’s 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 Fisher’s self-discovery

While there is nothing particularly flashy or sensational about Washington’s 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.


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