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ANTWONE FISHER

This Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is some guy. His father was murdered before he was born. His mother gave him up for adoption to a woman who — as the film indicates in flashbacks — beat him, tried to make him feel worthless, and exposed him to sexual abuse by a babysitter. Now a Navy seaman, Antwone has a temper and gets into fights. He lands in the office of a fatherly psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) who helps him acquire self-esteem, a better attitude, a perfect girlfriend, and the determination to seek his biological mother.

Based on the real Antwone Fisher’s autobiographical screenplay and straightforwardly directed by Washington, this old-fashioned after-school special benefits from sincerity and from a good performance by Luke. The film also has its awkwardnesses (like the mining of the psychiatrist’s troubled marriage for a rather arbitrary subplot), a certain lack of tension (Antwone is so wonderful that the outcome of his contest with his demons is never in question), and the usual liberal-drama implication that the face of a social problem can’t be seen unless someone "like us" looks at it. (120 minutes)

BY CHRIS FUJIWARA

Issue Date: December 19 - 26, 2002
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