Antwone Fisher Reviews
It's a great autobiographical story and an impressive directorial debut from Denzel. He delivers another stellar performance here as well.
Denzel Washington is known for playing the lead in a lot of hard hitting and gritty dramatic films, so it is interesting to see him taking on a film like Antwone Fisher where it is more subtle in its drama and gently paced. The pacing may be a little slow for some, and even I was a little thrown off by how slowly it moved for a little while. But eventually I settled in and was able to really appreciate Antwone Fisher for what it was. It was essentially like a version of Good Will Hunting where the character has grown up troubled and suffered the issues of being African American this time. While not as groundbreaking or deep as Good Will Hunting, it is still a firm directional debut from Denzel Washington who is able to handle the drama in the story with a firm grip of tenacity as a film director. While the pacing of the film and the length of Antwone Fisher makes it stretch its limits a lot, it is mostly effective. Although it does feel like it could be doing a lot more than it actually does, and it isn't always the most interesting because there is a fair bit of waiting around for things to happen. But still, it is an entertaining and innovative cinematic piece.
Antwone Fisher is one of those films which reminds audiences that everybody has a story. Everybody is somebody and has fought some kind of battle to get where they are today. Antwone Fisher himself is simply an everyman who grew up with a tough life and managed to get his story told by the prestigious Denzel Washington himself. He is a particularly interesting man because on the surface he comes off as sort of obnoxious, but as he interacts with Dr. Jerome Davenport we begin to see more depth in him and begin to understand him more, judging him a lot less. Antwone Fisher develops its characters naturally over the course of the pacing in the story. Some may find that the small scale character focus of a simply everyman is a little too slow and dramatically subtle for them to enjoy the film while others will appreciate it as the film's greatest virtue. I admire that aspect of the film, but I can see how it would cause viewers to be irritated as well.
Antwone Fisher is a really low key film. It doesn't degrade its story drama, it simply tells it in the subtle fashion that comes with telling flashbacks to reveal that viewers will never truly understand what the titular character Antwone fisher has actually gone through. The lack of understanding him is actually also a key theme in the film as well, so the atmosphere in Antwone Fisher is really effective. And really, it tells its true story very well. It pleased the real Antwone Fisher due to how honest the film was and the way that it really revealed him to be a complex and misunderstood human being, and it revealed the reason he is an inspiring person without resorting to cheesy movie tropes or melodramatic and predictable elements. Antwone Fisher is inspiring simply as he is a troubled human being who could not be broken down and is still standing. And really, that is the actual kind of heroic figure that people need in life. And the simple fact that of all the men in the world still standing after facing unspoken troubles over the years Antwone Fisher had his story taken on and told honestly is very admirable. So Denzel Washington works fine direction into handling Antwone Fisher's script written by the titular man himself.
And acting wise, the cast is the most admirable asset in Antwone Fisher.
In his debut performance, Derek Luke makes a very impressive impact on Antwone Fisher by tackling the titular role. Derek Luke was an unknown face before starring in Antwone Fisher, but after seeing him in the role it is hard to really forget him. Guided by the skilful direction of Denzel Washington, Derek Luke gives an excellent leading performance. Capturing the charisma of a young Denzel Washington, Derek Luke has the appropriate rough edge for the character and keeps it within him which is a very honest and realistic way to depict the character. And he speaks with such honesty. He doesn't go over the top or make Antwone Fisher an artificial hero, he keeps him on a certain level of realism which he does very admirably, managing to create a strong chemistry with all of the surrounding actors in the process. Derek Luke is a greatly talented actor, and Antwone Fisher managed to prove that.
Directing himself to another unsurprisingly excellent performance, Denzel Washington takes on a very restrained character in Antwone Fisher, and the most important aspect of his role is the kind of chemistry that he creates with Derek Luke as part of the psychiatrist-patient connection that they form. And the way that they communicate with each other is very impressive. All of Denzel Washington's scenes are important for the way that his character delves into the mind of Antwone Fisher, and with his well thought out line delivery and meaningfully positive intentions, he manages to give another impressive performance. Most of Denzel Washington's performance in Antwone Fisher is simply about him sitting around and forming meaningful communication with Derek Lucas, and there is no problem there because it ends up being thoughtful and entertaining.
Joy Bryant also gives a strong supporting performance.
So although Antwone Fisher is a slow and long film, the sheer brilliance in the acting and the thoughtful handling of the story on behalf of Denzel Washington in his directional debut manages to elevate the film above its negative elements most of the time and create a simple and inspiring tale of Antwone Fisher's life.