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FINDING FORRESTER

SYNOPSIS:
Jamal (Rob Brown) looks like a typical 16 year old black kid who lives in The Bronx, plays basketball on the crumbling public playground court and has vague dreams he is trying to crystalise. From an apartment overlooking the playground a mysterious, reclusive older man seems to be watching. On a dare, Jamal steals into the old man’s apartment and so triggers a new direction in his life as the man, William Forrester (Sean Connery), famed for his single, great, Pulitzer Prize winning novel 40 years earlier, takes an interest in Jamal’s writing. But Jamal has to overcome some serious obstacles, and Forrester has to face down some of his demons, as they propel each other towards new goals.

"Observant and insightful writing, coupled with well developed characterisations, makes Finding Forrester a thoroughly engaging and satisfying drama – with comic twirls and asides, full of humanity and complexity. The film changes moods with each of its three acts, and draws us into its world with assurance and style. Mike Rich has given Gus van Sant a striking and rich screenplay to work with, touching on many issues, but driven by character. Brown is spectacular as Jamal, totally convincing and multifaceted as the kid with a writing talent that matches his sporting abilities. Connery is at his ageing best as the recluse drawn out of his shell by Jamal, giving a masterclass in acting, avoiding overplaying his rich material. The entire cast is superb; van Sant’s direction is fluid and interesting without being tricksy. Great locations, production design and brilliant use of music completes this outstanding production."
Andrew L. Urban

"He reads The Times for dinner but reads the National Enquirer for dessert. He has lively debates about the use of conjunctive words at the beginning of sentences. He drinks J & B Scotch, cleans his windows meticulously but doesn't leave his apartment. He is a writer. Words are his heartbeat. Finding Forrester is a story about such a writer, but moreover, it is an inspiring story of friendship, discovery, hope and courage. Gus Van Sant has lovingly created a stirring, affecting film about an individual and his mentor and the unlikely friendship they forge. Uplifting and immensely satisfying, Finding Forrester is music to a film lover's ears. Literally. Miles Davis' muted trumpet and Bill Frissell's (additional) soulful music set the mood, while the charismatic star power of the incomparable Sean Connery fascinates. Connery melds effortlessly into the crusty recluse who is at his own crossroads while newcomer Rob Brown dazzles as the 16 year old kid from the Bronx. Reminding me at times of a young Sidney Poitier, Brown is as comfortable on the basketball court as he is sparring with Connery's word games. F. Murray Abrahams recaptures some of his Salieri bitterness as the writer who never made it, while Anna Paquin is fresh as Jamal's college ally. While there are parallels with Wonder Boys, Almost Famous and Scent of a Woman, Finding Forrester keeps its own individuality largely due to its well written script and textured characters. Carefully judged and paced, the 137 minute running time never drags and the story unfolds in its own time. It's an involving film and I must admit my eyes became misty a couple of times. Of course if you're interested in writing or have a love of words, then this is definitely the film for you. It's an uplifting story with haunting elements which never strays into melodrama. In one vital emotional scene, much of the impact comes from leaving things to our imagination. A story about two individuals, Finding Forrester is an exploration of principles, determination and commitment."
Louise Keller

"Films about that most non-visual medium, writing, are often difficult propositions. Still, Curtis Hanson managed to pull it off in his terrific Wonder Boys, and now Gus Van Sant also heads into literary territory with Finding Forrester. Although it has touches of his earlier work Good Will Hunting, this film has considerably more subtlety and a lot more intelligence. Van Sant is a director of great talent and brings a refreshing approach to this 'odd couple' style tale. For most of its considerable length, this is a beautifully crafted and moving film; although unfortunately it's let down by its script. While showing a lot of promise early, the screenplay lapses into very familiar (almost trite) material towards the end. As a result, Finding Forrester can't be considered a complete success. But this is not so much a criticism, as a wish for what might have been; as even with its faults, this film is superior to much of the stuff seen in the past 12 months. The central character, Forrester, has clearly been modelled on that most famous literary recluse J.D. Salinger; but in a wonderful performance, Sean Connery gives him an identity all his own. Connery provides a depth few actors could match, making William Forrester another of the actor's memorable characters. Robert Brown, as Jamal plays off Connery magnificently, although he seems curiously subdued, even in the film's most dramatic moments. F Murray Abraham is conversely a little over the top as Crawford, but still manages to be credible most of the time; while Anna Paquin again marks herself as a star of the future, playing Claire with considerable maturity. Although Finding Forrester falters, it's nonetheless an intelligent and literate film of considerable power."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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TRAILER

FINDING FORRESTER (M)
(US)

CAST: Sean Connery, Robert Brown, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes (and a cameo by Matt Damon)

PRODUCERS: Sean Connery, Laurence Mark, Rhonda Tollefson

DIRECTOR: Gus Van Sant

SCRIPT: Mike Rich

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Harris Savides

EDITOR: Valdis Oskarsdóttir

MUSIC: Bill Brown

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jane Musky

RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col Tristar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 29, 2001







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