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Finding Forrester (2000)
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Review Date: December 07, 2000
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Mike Rich
Producers: Sean Connery, Laurence Mark, Rhonda Tollefson
Actors:
Sean Connery
Robert Brown
Plot:
A young black man living in the Bronx is dared by his friends to break into the house of an older man considered by all to be nothing more than a hermit. After their initial encounter, the two strike up a friendship as the older gentleman helps the younger one improve his writing skills. It turns out that he is none other than William Forrester, a long-lost writer who penned one incredible novel over 50 years ago and then disappeared.
Critique:
The great performance given here by first-time actor Rob Brown and the semi-inspirational story of the film doesn't save it from feeling déjà vu, telegraphing most of its scenes from the start and wasting plenty of its side characters. Other than the main duo in this film, who did provide for some great moments and solid chemistry, the rest of the cast here felt quite underwritten. Anna Paquin is barely given any soul, Busta Rhymes is funny but presented with little background and none of Brown's friends in the movie have anything more than a few lines to distinguish themselves. The worst case goes out to F. Murray Abraham, who is nothing more than a one-dimensional "road-block" inserted into the story for obvious conflict reasons. With that in mind, his character's shenanigans didn't really provide for any real tension, since his obvious "destructive" nature, left little doubt as to the film's outcome. Anybody who has seen even one other "inspirational" movie should be able to see what is ultimately going to happen once the relationship between Connery and Brown blossoms. But even more importantly, their story simply did not pull me in emotionally. Brown was really good as the young boy with the genius brewing under his tough exterior, but Connery was simply okay as the crabby Scottish drunken guy.

I don't know, maybe I just predicted too much of this film from the get-go, but I can't imagine anyone else not doing the same. And with very little development around the two main protagonists of the story, I just didn't get into their characters as much as I was hoping to. I would have liked more background on both of them as well. The little we did learn wasn't enough to satisfy all of my queries. And despite the film moving at a decent pace (it's long but I didn't feel it go by), Van Sant made some very odd choices in directing, which stood out for me as a viewer. The slo-mo shots seemed out of place in this straight-forward drama and the final speech given by one of the characters was drowned out by a grand score, meant to tug at us emotionally. Only I was left wondering what the words were that he was saying. I mean, the film is about writers after all and yet we are barely treated to any words written by either of the two main players. That was too bad. With that in mind, I would suggest anyone interested in this topic to check out WONDER BOYS (8/10) starring Michael Douglas. That film also covers just about the same points made in this one, only it focuses more on the older character instead of the younger one, and does provide for a much stronger story and better developed secondary characters. All in all, this movie was an interesting watch, mainly because of the great chemistry between the two leads, but left me with very little to take home and even less to recommend to others.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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