At some point in time, we have all felt like an outcast whether it be because of the way we look, dress, or how we carry ourselves in public. Some of us have gone as far as to dumb ourselves down to fit in with the popular crowd or to not be alienated by our peers. At some point, not being yourself is going to take it’s toll on you and the real you will come out or you will have a breakdown. For Jamal Wallace, it must have been a stifling life having to act like an average student when you are the smartest person in the classroom if not the school.
“Finding Forrester” is the story of Jamal Wallace (played by Rob Brown) a black high school student from an inner city in New York who ends up meeting William Forrester (played by Sean Connery) after leaving his bag in his house after a bet went awry. It wasn’t the loss of the book bag that worried Jamal. It was all of the things he wrote that were still in the bag that Jamal was worried about. The next day, William dropped Jamal’s bag out of his window in front of him and when Jamal went through it, all of his writing was critiqued. This intrigued Jamal enough to go back and see if William would read some more of his writing and help him out. William (obviously pissed off that Jamal snuck into his house and tried to steal something) said, “How about 5,000 words on why you’ll stay the f*ck out of my home.” Jamal actually went home, wrote it, and came back the next day. William was shocked that Jamal returned with the 5,000 words and invited Jamal in. Thus starting a relationship that would become beneficial to them both.
You’re probably thinking that this sounds like a normal cliché movie where two people from different lifestyles come together and learn from each other. And guess what? You’d be 100% correct. The story is absolutely cliché. What separates this movie from other similar films is the pure effort and emotion that the actors put into this movie from scene to scene. Sure, you will get the feel good emotions that come from watching William and Jamal learn from each other, but there is also the disappointment of the way Jamal is treated as he joins the private school and also the way he is looked at as just some black kid who doesn’t deserve to be there. One teacher in particular Professor Crawford (played by F. Murray Abraham) thinks that because Jamal is not only from an inner city, but also because Jamal is black, that there is no way Jamal could be as smart as he is. And just when you think Jamal is about to back down, he stands up taller. This is the type of movie that should be shown to students because it teaches some basics in writing and also some life lessons about being yourself.
While the core group (Connery, Brown, and Abraham) are phenomenal, the rest of the cast really isn’t that great.
Like I stated earlier, the movie is pretty cliché, but the story is so good that it is easy to look past the fact that this is a story you may have heard before. It does lose points for originality.
“Finding Forrester” is hands down one of the best movies I have ever seen and remains one of my two favorites of all time. Maybe it holds a particular place in my heart because I am a black writer from an inner city with aspirations of becoming a famous writer when the cards are sometimes stacked against me. Or maybe it’s because everything about this movie is amazing. But, if I am going to be completely honest with you readers, it’s a pretty damn good movie, just not a great one.