Projections - Movie Reviews

Finding Forrester Finding Forrester

Perceived as a risky venture to some coming from a Hollywood studio, Finding Forester echoes Gus Van Sant's acclaimed Good Will Hunting from 1997 in its interplay between a younger man, a scholar athlete from the Bronx, and a withdrawn well known author.  Sean Connery takes on a less glamorous part in this independently felt, well written tale opposite a strong newcomer, Rob Brown who displays as much mental acumen as athleticism.  Van Sant uses the written and spoken word to enact feelings between Connery's titular William Forrester and Brown's Jamal Wallace.  The use of an aging star against type in a gritty, urban environment appears daunting, but the director gets a lot from two differing types who help each other find their way in life.

The casting of Brown, a real life jock and honor student from New York, goes a long way toward making Finding Forester engaging, as it shows that blacks can excel beyond sports.  This thought provoking picture becomes interesting in that the writer knows the kid has a gift and wants him to learn more from and spend more time with Forester who only "goes out" to clean his windows.

Comparable to Matt Damon's Will Hunting, Jamal has an aptitude not in class work per say, but on his own in journals, and a test which he aces lands him at a swank private school on a basketball scholarship.  Forrester helps him punch the keys of the typewriter, writing now, then thinking later.  Jamal becomes more aware of his capabilities and fonder of an eccentric mentor who loves birds and reading the National Enquirer for dessert, especially when he learns who the old man really is.

Anna Paquin is the genial, observant Clair who has more than a passing interest in Jamal.  F. Murray Abraham unsympathetically is the professor who thinks Jamal's rapid writing achievements may not be authentic.

As it unfolds with drama building from Jamal's entry in a writing contest that takes William back to school Van Sant furnishes a journey of minds that recalls the unappreciated Wonder Boys about a teacher and student who learn from and help one another.

While Connery and Brown get a subliminal rhythm down, Van Saint can't quite make the last act as poignant as Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester moves into quiet melodrama.  However, there remains a convincing integrity as one reaches his potential by coming out of the closet and missing two free throws in a championship game.

Finding Forrester
A Top Ten pick for 2000

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