FINDING FORRESTER. (2000) DIRECTED BY GUS VAN SANT. WRITTEN BY MIKE RICH. PRODUCED BY SEAN CONNERY AND LAURENCE MARK.
STARRING SEAN CONNERY, ROB BROWN, BUSTA RHYMES, APRIL GRACE, MATT DAMON, MICHAEL PITT, ANNA PAQUIN AND F. MURRAY ABRAHAM.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
All together now... Aaaaaaaaw! This is the kind of film that's commonly described as 'feel-good' or 'heart-warming,' and I must say that it did leave me with the feeling that I'd been nicely heart-warmed, as it were, and I did feel good after watching it. Now, that might be something to do with the case of wine I consumed during the screening or it could genuinely have been a great film...!
It's one of those films where a cranky, eccentric or reclusive (in this case, all three!) older person grudgingly accepts the friendship of a much younger person to whom perhaps they can convey the true meaning of life through the re-telling of their own life experiences or, maybe, they can pass on other knowledge about life or a skill which they happen to have. You know the type of thing.
You'll also know that, initially, the grumpy older person resists the younger person's company and resents the intrusion into their immensely, intensely private lives. Sooner or later, however, the ice begins to melt around the older person's frozen heart and he or she learns the true meaning of friendship, while the younger person learns that older people shouldn't be dismissed simply because they're old, but should be made to feel useful, valued and included because they still have so much to give.
Well, that's the case with this film. You'll probably already have guessed that Sean OO7 Connery plays the grumpy lead role. He's looking exceedingly young, fit and trim despite the snow on the roof. He plays the reclusive writer William Forrester who's penned one hugely successful novel, AVALON LANDING, donkey's years ago. He hasn't published anything since, despite the fact that he won the Pulitzer Prize for his one book.
Forrester lives alone in his book-filled New York apartment in a gorgeous old building, using binoculars to simultaneously bird-watch and keep tabs on the young black teenagers playing basketball on the court below his window. Not in a pervy or paedophile-y way or anything like that. I guess he's just interested in taking a peek at the life that's going on all around him, the life we find out he's pretty much retired from for his own tragic reasons.
Rob Brown plays Jamal Wallace, one of these basketball-playing black teenagers. He's the young person to Sean Connery's cranky shut-in. A twist of fate and a criminal act (well, let's not dress it up!) bring the unlikely pair together in the first place, but two mutual discoveries keep them coming back for more: Jamal's discovery that Forrester wrote the book he's read and loves to bits, and Forrester's accidental uncovering of Jamal's own significant writing talent.
Jamal's just been accepted into a snooty, posh private school, despite the fact that he's a poor black teenager from the Bronx and the son of a hard-working, struggling single mother. It's his prowess at basketball that's attracted the school for toffs. That, and his extraordinary test scores. Well, you know what the 'Muricans are like about their sports. They live for their precious sports, haha.
Anyway, folks, Jamal seems to be something of a genius. Forrester takes him under his literary wing, so to speak, and makes a wee protegé of him. He can't prevent Jamal from immediately running afoul of his snobby new school's most dangerous English teacher, however, or from falling rather heavily for Anna Paquin's stuck-up, bitchy Little Rich Girl character, Claire...
I don't like Anna (TRUE BLOOD, THE PIANO) Paquin's character in this. It seems to me as if the richest girl in the school just wants people to see her daring to date a poor black boy just for the kudos or the shock value or whatever, or maybe she's doing it to piss off her seriously rich father, who just so happens to be a member of the school board of governors.
I seriously doubt if she'd be any good for Jamal. All she'd bring him would be trouble and heartache and, as his Dad's already walked out on him and his Mom and brother and left 'em all to fend for themselves, Jamal has already had his share of that shit.
I love Busta Rhymes as Jamal's older brother Terrell. He's a parking-lot attendant and a would-be rapper and he seems comfortable enough in his own skin. He's sexy as hell too. I loved him in that instalment of the HALLOWEEN franchise he starred in, in which the old Myers place becomes the
setting for a reality TV show, with fatal but kind of hilarious results for the horny teens who couldn't wait to get their mugs on the telly...
F. Murray Abraham (AMADEUS) is excellent also as the English teacher who doesn't like to be bested by a student. And especially not by an upstart of a black student who's come to the school on a scholarship. His clash with Jamal will have far-reaching results for both pupil and teacher...
I loved that this film was mostly about writing and not so much about basketball or, worse, baseball, haha. Sport's not really my thing, y'all. William Forrester's status as the writer of one hugely successful book but no more books after that reminded me very much of Harper Lee and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, her only book until the publication of GO SET A WATCHMAN a year or two ago.
Margaret Mitchell was another one-book writer, and what a book! GONE WITH THE WIND was turned into one of the most popular films of all time and her book is up there with HARRY POTTER and the Bible when it comes to the sheer numbers of readers it's had.
It's actually J.D. Salinger, the author of CATCHER IN THE RYE, however, whom Sean Connery is channelling in this marvellous film. Mr. Salinger was the inspiration for the movie, though the film's not based on a true story or anything like that. I must confess that I still haven't read CATCHER IN THE RYE, but it's definitely on my to-read list and I will read it. Right after I get done with Leo Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA and WAR AND PEACE...
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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