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Starring: Sean Connery, Rob Brown
Director: Gus Van Sant
Rating: 4 / 5
Director Gus Van Sant made a name for himself with Good Will Hunting in 1997, and while Finding Forrester might not achieve its predecessor's lofty heights, it remains quite a cinematic delight. With veteran Sean Connery and newcomer Rob Brown leading the way, Finding Forrester shines as one of those hidden gems from 2000. Released at the end of the year to garner would-be Oscar momentum, the film slipped largely under the radar, earning just more than $50 million. Nevertheless, its story is a heartfelt one, full of earnest performances and a clear message about following one's dreams.
Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), sixteen years old and living with his mother in a poor section of the Bronx, is overflowing with talent. His junior year aptitude tests reveal as much, even though his grades indicate a student coasting his way through school. Jamal's exceptional test performance attracts the attention of the local prep school, an institution offering Jamal a chance to pursue his love for basketball while also helping him realize his intellectual potential. Although somewhat reluctant to leave his friends behind, Jamal soon enrolls, able to concentrate, for the very first time, on academics without worrying about peer pressure. Before he enrolls, though, Jamal has a run-in with a neighborhood recluse, a man who will change his life.
Dared by his friends to steal something from the apartment of someone known only as The Window, Jamal first ventures into the dwelling of famed writer William Forrester. Forrester, who wrote "the great American novel," Avalon Landing, in 1953, never released a follow-up, choosing instead to remain in his dark, quiet apartment. After some initial tension, the two men strike up a rather unusual friendship. Over the course of the film, we learn more about what really motivates Jamal, at the same time discovering a little bit about why Forrester has remained in seclusion for decades. When Jamal enters a school-sponsored writing contest, accusations fly, leaving Jamal and Forrester to think about the state of their own relationship.
Sean Connery is masterful as William Forrester, due in large part to the fact that his performance is markedly understated. Connery plays the writer as a simple man cherishing what is important to him, choosing not to be bothered by the goings-on in the outside world. There is no melodramatic moment, one featuring alcohol abuse or a broken home; there is simply a man trying to find his way. Fresh face Rob Brown holds his own next to the long-time film star, portraying a young man who is both cocky and vulnerable. The film does tend to extend itself about fifteen minutes too long, thanks to an unnecessary postscript, but that should not diminish the film's impact. Finding Forrester is a story of hope, the realization of dreams, and, perhaps most of all, friendship.
|Sean Connery..........||William Forrester|
|Rob Brown..........||Jamal Wallace|
|Anna Paquin..........||Claire Spence|
|F. Murray Abraham..........||Professor Crawford|
Certification: Rated PG-13 for language.
Running Time: 136 minutes.
Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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