Denzel Washington makes his directorial debut with the true story of Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke), a sullen sailor with a heart of gold whose exceptionally harsh life has left him severely lacking in both self-esteem and self-control. When his temper lands him an appointment with a Navy psychiatrist (Washington), Fisher is forced to confront the painful past he’s been trying for years to forget. Washington doesn’t display much directorial flair with this cut-and-dried drama, hitting all the obligatory notes in a simplistic manner that lacks subtext or nuance. Nevertheless, the inherent poignancy of Fisher’s remarkable story, along with a powerful performance by newcomer Luke, make for an ultimately heartbreaking and inspirational film.
Kinsey Scale: 1 (When Antwone’s sexuality is questioned by one of his shipmates, he responds with a violent outburst. Washington was a homophobic lawyer representing a gay man with AIDS in Philadelphia. Queer icon Barbra Streisand’s hubby, James Brolin, turns up briefly as a Navy officer.)
(Appeared in Q Syndicate)