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Most enjoyable.
MartinHafer20 April 2021
Jamal is a seemingly typical teen living in the inner city. He gets fair grades, has many friends and enjoys playing basketball. However, his life changes dramatically for two reasons. First, he meets a strange recluse, William Forrester, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner who simply disappeared from all public view. Second, Jamal takes a standardized test which reveals he may be a genius and because of this, and his basketball skills, he's offered a scholarship to a fancy private school in New York. How do both things end up coinciding with each other? See the film.

While I'll quickly admit that a 70-something white recluse becoming a friend and mentor to a black teen is hard to believe, I didn't mind this nor the schmaltziness of the script. Sure, it's tough to believe but also very well crafted and enjoyable if you don't spend the entire film questioning the plot. Just sit back and enjoy some fine performances and a sweet tale of both Jamal AND William Forrester.
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Where do the James Baldwins spring from?
bkoganbing2 November 2013
Director Gus Van Sant took the best parts of his own Good Will Hunting and Scent Of A Woman and fashioned Finding Forrester. The title is a something of a misnomer in that Forrester and someone else kind of find each other.

The title role of finding Forrester is played by Sean Connery who is a J.D. Salinger type author who has lived as a recluse in a brownstone. He wrote one novel back in the day and never wrote another. Presumably he said all there was to say in his mind.

A young ghetto kid with a talent for basketball and a bigger talent for writing meet in a rather peculiar fashion that I won't go into. They form a nice relationship, supplying needs for each other. Rob Brown who was a newcomer played the kid who has gotten a basketball scholarship, from a posh prep school, but has dazzled many with his abilities as a writer.

Finding Forrester has an interesting commentary on our stereotypes. Brown is in the school to bring home a basketball champion. Black ghetto kids are supposed to have talent in that direction. But creative writing? Just where do they think the James Baldwins spring from? That's no matter to frustrated professor F. Murray Abraham who teaches because he failed as a novelist. As Connery puts it people can get the mechanics of writing down, but talent can't be learned.

Anyway Brown gets put through a ringer like Chris O'Donnell did in Scent Of A Woman. Can you imagine the late J.D. Salinger coming out of his hideaway in New England on such a mission as Connery undertakes. Much bigger than what Al Pacino did in Scent Of A Woman.

Connery and Brown do form a nice bond and they have good chemistry for the viewer. And that's really about 80% of Finding Forrester.

You'll find Finding Forrester worth the effort.
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well made traditional mentor movie
SnoopyStyle1 September 2014
William Forrester (Sean Connery) is a reclusive writer living in an old building in a black neighborhood. He's The Window, a mysterious ghost to the kids. Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) is a great basketball player and keeps a C average for appearances. His older brother Terrell (Busta Rhymes) is a hustler. He breaks into Forrester's apartment but leaves behind his backpack leading to a mentorship with the mysterious man. He had scored high on a standardized test and given a scholarship to the private Mailor School in Manhattan. He is befriended by the smart Claire Spence (Anna Paquin). Prof. Robert Crawford (F. Murray Abraham) assigns Forrester's novel in his class.

It's a fairly traditional mentor movie. Sean Connery is excellent. Rob Brown has a sweetness as well as some quiet intensity. It's all very well done and well made. Their scenes together are nicely done.
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Derivative but enjoyable that is made much better by the two strong performances
bob the moo2 April 2006
Jamal Wallace is a black highschool student living in the Bronx, New York. He has a talent for basketball, which is popular with his friends and a talent for writing that he tends not to talk up. His test scores bring him to the attention of an exclusive private school with offers of a scholarship, starting immediately. Meanwhile he gives in to his friend's challenges and breaks into the flat of a man known as "the window" because he never leaves his flat but just stares out at the world passing outside. When he is confronted by the man, Wallace flees but forgets his bag, but it is given back later, with all his note book scribbled on and critiqued. He goes back to the flat and tries to get the man to help him further with his writing.

Has it been so many years since Good Will Hunting that Van Sant felt the need to remake it with elements changed? And if so did he feel so insecure about doing it that he delivered with such little originality and blandness so that the audience knows just what they are getting and feels comfortable (if unimpressed)? I guess the answers to both those questions is yes because Finding Forrester is very much a version of Good Will Hunting with the basics kept the same and other bits changed around. Of course this does not mean that it is a bad film because I actually quite enjoyed it; although I knew just where it was going and what it was doing from start to finish. In this way it is a bit annoying that director and writer should be so uninterested in doing anything other than trudging out such obvious material.

The story, although familiar is well enough told though to make it worth seeing. What made it much better for me though were the two genuinely engaging performances in the lead. Given fairly obvious characters to work with, I felt that both Brown and Connery took it, worked it and made it more than the sum of the words in the script. Brown is impressive by how much seems to be going on behind his eyes and I was more impressed when I learnt that this was his acting debut. Connery is equally as good in a role that he could have slummed off his famous voice and natural presence; but instead he works with a vulnerability that is convincing and makes his character and the story so much more interesting. Neither of them can make this a wonderful film but they both do a lot of work to make it an enjoyable and engaging one. Support from Abraham is by-the-numbers but effective (although his final scene is unconvincing); I didn't understand why Paquin bothered (or why they bothered to have her character in the story) while Rhymes is just what you expect and only looks weak at the end when he is asked to emote.

Overall this is a solid and enjoyable film despite the fact that it seems determined to do just what you expect it to do. That said the story is still interesting but what really does the business are the two great performances from Brown and Connery – both as individuals but also together; they take the obvious material and make it somehow much more convincing and engaging. Not a great film by any stretch of the imaginative and too derivative to really stick in the mind but does enough to entertain.
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"The first key to writing is to write. Not to think."
classicsoncall3 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes my movie reviews go like that too. No need to think about what to write because the words just seem to flow as I sit in front of a keyboard. I didn't know that director Gus Van Sant also did "Good Will Hunting" until I saw some other reviewers commenting on it, but while watching I felt that connection. There's even Matt Damon showing up, having graduated from his role as a prodigy in that movie to announce the contents of William Forrester's (Sean Connery) will to Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown). There's a formulaic plot to this story but a freshness as well, and one isn't inundated with overtones of racial awareness or political correctness. One minor concession perhaps to stretching things a bit is the relationship formed between Jamal and Claire Spence (Anna Paquin), but it didn't involve a romantic entanglement, and probably wouldn't have worked if it had. What I will take issue with is Jamal's decision to blow the two foul shots near the end of the story, a move that I thought was rather selfish in as much as it hurt the rest of the team and the entire Mailor-Callow School. For someone intent on being the best possible person he could be, Jamal's instincts let him down for that brief but pressure filled moment. For his part, William Forrester's selfishness appeared any number of times in the way he conducted his life, only to be redeemed by demonstrating the integrity necessary to clear Jamal of a baseless charge of plagiarism. And my oh my, (there, I started a sentence with 'and'), why would a fastidious person like William Forrester take a sip from a handy glass of water right before reading the letter that Jamal wrote to him in front of the entire school?
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better than "Good Will Hunting"
lee_eisenberg8 October 2006
While some people compared "Finding Forrester" to "Good Will Hunting", I wish to assert that this one was far better. This one shows how Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) discovered his own strength by helping William Forrester (Sean Connery), and managed to challenge the dictatorial professor (F. Murray Abraham); both sides saw a completely new side of life. Maybe on one level, it looks sort of funny to have Jamal's rap-centric world meet William's literary world, but the movie takes a serious, well-done approach to it. "Good Will Hunting", I'm sorry to say, now seems self-indulgent.

So yes, this one is better, and it affirms Gus Van Sant as one of the great directors of our era. It is one that I recommend at all costs. Also starring Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes and Matt Damon in a small role.
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Finding Forrester
jboothmillard30 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
It was the 90th birthday of Sir Sean Connery in 2020, and to celebrate I chose to watch some of his greatest films during the week. This included his six (official) James Bond 007 films, films I had not seen for years, like The Untouchables (his Oscar winning role), The Rock, and Entrapment, and obviously ones I had not seen before. On the day of his birthday, I decided to watch one this film I had not seen from 2000, his penultimate live-action film before he retired from acting (after the terrible The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), directed by Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting, Milk). Basically, in the Bronx, New York, sixteen-year-old Jamal Wallace (introducing Rob Brown) is a gifted student but thinks nothing of his potential and plays basketball with his friends. They have been watched for some time by an old man (Sean Connery, also producing), a recluse who never leaves his apartment and has become a neighbourhood urban legend. Jamal is dared by his friend to sneak into the old man's apartment but is surprised by him. He flees the apartment, leaving his backpack behind, containing his personal writings. The old man later drops the bag onto the street, and Jamal notices his writings have been edited with notes. Jamal returns to the apartment and asks the old man to read more of his writing, but he angrily tells Jamal to begin with 5,000 words on why he should "stay out of my home." Jamal does so, leaving the essay on the old man's doorstep, and is invited inside. Jamal comes to the attention of Mailor-Callow, a prestigious Manhattan private school, when he scores highly on his standardised tests, and offered a full academic scholarship, with the understanding that he will join the basketball team. Jamal again returns to see the old man, learning that he is William Forrester, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a famous novel, Avalon Landing, but never published another book. Forrester agrees to help Jamal with his writing with the promise he will not ask about his life or tell anyone about him. They bond as Forrester gives Jamal tips on how to make great writing, and to rewrite his own work, on the condition that it never leaves the apartment. Jamal's writing improves, leading to Professor Robert Crawford (F. Murray Abraham) to suspect him of plagiarism. Jamal befriends his classmate Claire Spence (Anna Paquin) and excels on the basketball court but is alienated from his old friends. He convinces Forrester to attend a game with him at Madison Square Garden, but they become separated in the crowd, Forrester is overwhelmed and has an anxiety attack. With the help of his brother Terrell (rapper Busta Rhymes), Jamal takes Forrester onto the empty field at Yankee Stadium, where an emotional Forrester reveals he often came to see baseball games with his brother. He tells Jamal about his brother's trauma returning home from World War II, which was the inspiration for his book, and his indirect role in his brother's death, followed by the deaths of their parents, this is what led him to become reclusive. Still suspicious, Crawford forces Jamal to complete his next assignment in his presence. Running out of time to enter the school's essay competition, Jamal submits one of Forrester's exercises to the contest, and humiliates Crawford during class. He is called before Crawford and the school board, who reveal that William Forrester had published the article upon which Jamal based his essay. Jamal is asked to prove he had the author's permission to use his material, but he keeps his promise to Forrester and says nothing. Crawford demands he read a letter of apology to his classmates, but Jamal refuses, endangering his scholarship. Jamal tells Forrester what he has done, and asks his friend to defend him, but Forrester is angry Jamal betrayed his trust, and Jamal berates him for being unwilling to leave his home. The school assures Jamal that the plagiarism charges will be dropped if he wins the state basketball tournament, but he misses the final free throws, costing them the championship. Forrester watches the game on television and afterwards manages to ride his bicycle through the city. Terrell gives him a letter from Jamal, who is at school for the essay contest. Forrester appears, surprising the audience, and reads a heartfelt essay that captivates everyone. He acknowledges his friendship with Jamal, whom he explains had his blessing to use his material, but Crawford declares that this will not influence the school's decision. Forrester reveals that the words he has recited were actually written by Jamal, and the headmaster overrules Crawford and clears Jamal's name. Jamal leaves with Forrester, who plans to visit his native Scotland. A year later, Jamal is preparing to graduate from Mailor-Callow. He meets with attorney Sanderson (Matt Damon), who tells him that Forrester has died, he was diagnosed with cancer before meeting Jamal. Forrester has bequeathed his apartment to Jamal, with a letter thanking him for rekindling his desire to live. Jamal is also left the manuscript of Forrester's second novel, for which he is expected to write the foreword, and he reunites with his old friends in a basketball game. Also starring Michael Pitt as Coleridge, Joker's April Grace as Ms. Joyce, and Michael Nouri as Dr. Spence. This is definitely one of the gentlest films Connery has starred in, he gives a terrific performance as the insightful writer with a troubled past, newcomer Brown is good as the black teenager with skills for writing and on the basketball court, and there is welcome support from Abraham and Paquin. There are elements of familiarity, especially considering it echoing Van Sant's Good Will Hunting, it is a similar vibe, but it is a thoughtful and cosy watch, an interesting enough drama. Worth watching!
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Reclusive writer and reluctant scholar bring out the best in each other, a fine film worth seeing more than once.
TxMike12 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Sept 2013 update: Just watched it again after 5 years, holding up very well!

"Finding Forrester" is an interesting title, because it could simply mean the outside world re-discovering writer William Forrester (Sean Connery) after almost a half-century of reclusive living under an assumed name. However to me it contains a deeper meaning, of Forrester finding himself, and getting on with a life he had put on hold for so many years. I rate it highly and should be a moving film experience for anyone who values family and deep personal relationships. To me it is of similar overall quality and impact as "Good Will Hunting", "Cider House Rules", and "Eve's Bayou."


Jamal (first-time actor Rob Brown) is a black American, NYC 16-yr-old, basketball-playing, straight "C" high school junior being raised by his single mom. After dad disappeared, Jamal secretly began writing down his thoughts in small diary books. Highly intelligent, he played basketball with his friends and kept his grades average as a way of being accepted in the 'hood. All the boys refer to "the window" over their basketball court, where they see a man periodically peering through binoculars.

On a dare, Jamal one night goes into the "haunted house", and is surprised by Forrester, and in his rush to get out leaves his backpack behind. Next day, leaving the basketball court, the backpack drops near him from the top story corner window of Forrester's. Jamal gets home, opens his diaries, and finds RED MARKS, comments by Forrester, some complimentary, most not. Thus the seeds of collaboration are planted.

Jamal eventually, through sheer assertiveness, works his way into Forrester's life. He cannot understand how this talented author could quit publishing after one Pulitzer-prize winning novel almost a half-century earlier. Forrester's story is complex, but includes a brother who had returned from war and dies in a car wreck on his way home after saying goodbye to Forrester. At the morgue, the attendant was so insensitive that she commented on his book, rather than recognize his grief. Thus "writing and publishing" became a cruel reminder of the public's infatuation with celebrity, and he didn't want any part of it.

Forrester agrees to help Jamal learn to write well, as long as Jamal promises to never reveal their relationship nor Forrester's whereabouts. Jamal has very productive writing sessions, and through his academic achievement test scores, gets offered a scholarship to a prestigious private school, where he also gets to play basketball. His writing is so good, the Professor (Murray Abraham, also the protagonist to Mozart in "Amadeus") refuses to believe it is Jamal's work, and sets out to expose his fraud. In a gripping classroom scene, the Professor uses the word "farther" in a put-down referring to Jamal and basketball, and Jamal speaks up, "further", going on to explain that the Professor used the wrong word. Then, further embarrassing the Professor by finishing all his poetry quotes and naming the author, gets thrown out of class. In a later meeting, Professor whispers to Jamal, "Don't ever embarrass me in front of my students again", which is a perfect commentary on the Professor's priorities.

As the film wraps up, Jamal has a chance to win the championship basketball game with two free throws with no time on the clock, and misses them both. Earlier in practice we see that he is an expert free-thrower. Then, in the climactic scene, Forrester comes into Jamal's classroom, and reads some wonderful writing on "family and friendship", and Professor congratulates him while the students applaud. However, Forrester tells them that he was reading something Jamal wrote just the night before, and thus exposes Professor for the fraud that he is.

Near the end, Professor asks Jamal, did you miss those free throws, or did you "miss them"?? Jamal answers, "that isn't a soup question, is it?", referring to a question during their first meeting. That line alone shows the depth and subtleness of the script writing, and is largely responsible for this fine, fine film. Forrester decides to venture out more, tells Jamal he is going back to his homeland for a visit. "Ireland?", asks Jamal. Indignantly, Forrester answers, "Scotland!" Jamal smiles and says, "I'm just messing with you." Just another good piece of writing, and illustrates the "peer" relationship this old writer and this young basketball player had developed.

At the end, during Jamal's senior year, a lawyer (Matt Damon) shows up, representing Forrester, Jamal is told he died, had had cancer for 3 years, handed him some keys and a box and said "he wanted you to have these right away." Inside was a completed manuscript, a new novel written by Forrester and on the title page was written, "Foreword by Jamal Wallace."

I cannot say enough about how good first-time actor Rob Brown is in this film. Up against Sean Connery, one of the most powerful actors of our time, and a true screen "legend", Brown is simply perfect. There is no flaw in his performance. Unless this is a "one-role" wonder, he is destined to become one of the fine actors for the next 40 or 50 years. The DVD has a few interesting "extras", the best being the "Rob Brown" story which chronicles how he was found, and some candid behind the scenes video which shows how easily he worked with the stars and director in making "Finding Forrester". In real life he is much like the character he plays, an honor student who also plays basketball.

Anna Paquin also has a small role, befriending Jamal and helping him navigate the norms at the new school.
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A good drama about finding your way in (and back out) of the world
Quinoa198416 January 2001
Gus Van Sant almost totally makes up the fact he made a terrible remake 2 years ago (Psycho) by going back to what he does best- drama. Like Good Will Hunting, this film has a young person who has a gift and is good at it, but needs the right direction from a teacher. That is pretty much it even though that's the main theme. While in the other film it dealt with a Boston math genius who gets help from a therapist, here in Finding Forrester, a Bronx writing genius gets help from a person who wrote one book and went into the dark.

This person is Forrester (played by Sean Connery in one of his more unbelievable roles) who is found, by accident of course, by a brilliant though pretty much unknown writer named Jamal (Rob Brown in a good breakthrough). They make a deal, and soon the two deal with not only some personal issues (like in Will Hunting), but also in social issues. It has it's most powerful moments with Connery and Brown as the pupil and mentor as they sometimes have there roles crossed. Not great, but I'm glad I got to take a peek at it. B+
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Not Exactly Soup
tedg19 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I did a fair amount of research on this film before seeing it, so was prepared to hate it. I knew that it had been commissioned by Uncle Sean to emulate `Good Will Hunting.' That film gave me a toothache with its complete lack of understanding of the pain associated with mathematical insight. I expected the same with writing, but this time instead of Williams' excesses, we'd get the bombast of Connery.

I was largely right, but some things pleasantly surprised me. The young lead, Robert Brown held his focus. (He is the 17th Robert Brown to be listed in the IMDB!) It is not precisely good acting yet, but he lent comfort to the enterprise. And Van Sant had more competence with the angles and editing than he has shown before. The framing and underlying jazz set a pleasant beat.

But the effort was a failure, I think for two reasons.

Many films are written about writing, some even using this weakly self-referential device of the word and action on the screen having congruence. To make it work, you have to show the power of words, the power of the choice behind them, the commitment of soul that each concept demands in forming. None of that here. Writing seems equated to typing somehow -- `Pound those keys!' -- or that writing is a "natural" talent -- or that it has something to do with "test scores." This is the same prime weakness as in `Good Will,' but it is not because a popular film cannot accommodate a deeper vision: see `Wonder Boys.'

There is a secondary weakness too, and this alone would have killed the film. The writer knew enough to sketch the cinematic metaphor of inside and outside. (Oh how I wish he could also have given us overlying narratives of inner and outer poetry!) But with all of Van Sant's polishing, he completely missed the opportunity for tight versus open spaces. Forrester's cubby seems spacious, unconfining. How could he miss this opportunity to cramp the camera!

I think I know why. In doing so, he would make at least partly an architectural film. That means the camera wouldn't focus so exclusively on the boss. And the boss wants a statue.
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Find Me A Good Enough Reason For Watching
Theo Robertson18 May 2003
This starts off in the same way as I`ve been taught not how to write screenplays , a slow start with no hook . It`s difficult not to notice that all of Gus Van Sant`s films start off in the same way . Isn`t there something wrong with this ?

As a great number of people have noted this movie is just a cliched remake of GOOD WILL HUNTING . Rob Brown plays Jamal Wallace a 16 year old kid from the ghetto who knows everything about anything . It is very possible a homie could be so erudite on subjects as diverse as English grammar and the history of BMW ( Though it is unlikely ) , but the main problem is William Forrester a man who was once world famous after writing his one and only book . Think about that for a moment he only ever wrote one book and he was famous . Adolph Hitler wrote Mein Kampf but he`s infamous for his deeds not his words . Stephen Hawking wrote A Brief History Of Time but he was already a renowned physicist , helped by the fact that his book became fashionable because it was above everyone`s head . So can you name anybody in history who is famous for writing a grand total of one book ? I know I can`t

Sean Connery is always a good reason to watch a film but he never really makes enough films that deserve him and you can add FINDING FORRESTER to a long list of disappointments . It`s not a terrible film but is rather cliched , slow and predictable . If you want to see a good movie with Sean Connery and F Murray Abraham watch THE NAME OF THE ROSE instead
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bevo-1367830 October 2020
About the time I got really drunk and forgot where I parked my Subaru
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Connery Is The Only Reason to find "Forrester"
zardoz-1316 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sean Connery gives a crusty but charismatic performance as a reclusive novelist with a tragic secret who mentors an African-American teenager in "My Own Private Idaho" director Gus Van Sant's "Finding Forrester," co-starring F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes and newcomer Rob Brown. After helming the ambitious but abysmal remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror chiller "Psycho," Van Sant apparently wanted to remake his own classics rather than those of others. Sadly, lightning doesn't strike twice, and "Finding Forrester" pales in comparison with "Good Will Hunting." Whether Van Sant intended to plagiarize himself or not, the two films remain bear an unmistakable similarity. Connery plays the equivalent of Robin Williams morose therapist, while Brown performs wonders in his film debut as a disadvantaged but brilliant ghetto teen modeled on Matt Damon's attitude-driven, blue-collar genius.

Although it is an above-average, slightly claustrophobic drama about two guys who bring out the best in each other, "Finding Forrester" suffers from slow paced, melodramatic plotting. Cast as a 16-year old South Bronx high school pupil Jamal Wallace, Rob Brown brings quiet but believable dignity to the role or an unassuming, middle-class black whose superlative skill at sinking hoops complements his high academic test scores. Although he scores well on the SAT achievement test, Wallace deliberately sabotages his own grades at school so that his friends won't ostracize him as an egghead.

Since Jamal and his pals frequent a local blacktop basketball court for pick-up games, they have noticed a mysterious old white man watching them with binoculars from his third-story apartment. William Forrester (Sean Connery of "The Untouchables") never comes outside except at night to clean his window. Appropriately, they nickname him the 'Window.' When his friends dare him to break into Forrester's apartment, Jamal sneaks in late one night. Forrester surprises him and the frightened lad flees in such a rush that he abandons his backpack with his personal journals. Several days pass and Jamal spots his knapsack hanging in Forrester's window like a trophy. Eventually, Forrester pitches Jamal's incriminating backpack into the street at the youth's feet. Later that evening, Jamal inventories the contents and reads the helpful writing tips that Forrester has scribbled in his notebooks.

His curiosity whetted by Forrester's comments, Jamal knocks on his door and the crotchety oldster demands a five thousand word apology before he will help him. So begins the mutually beneficial but improbable friendship between a man at the dusk of his life and another at the dawn his creativity. At the same time, Jamal's superb basketball skills come to the attention of Mailor-Callow, an exclusive Manhattan prep school looking for another star basketball player. Waiving tuition, the school awards Jamal a full athletic scholarship so he can start attending classes. When he isn't in class or dribbling on the basketball court, Jamal visits Forrester and the irascible curmudgeon teaches him how to enrich his writing.

"Write the first draft with your heart. Rewrite with your head. The key to writing is to write, not think," Forrester advises Jamal, but Forrester sets some important conditions. Anything Jamal writes cannot leave the premises, and Forrester allows "no questions about me, my family, or why there was only one book." Gradually, as the glacial frigidity between them melts and their love for the written word cements their friendship, Jamal learns that Forrester is a renowned Salingeresque author.

Director Gus Van Sant, of "Drugstore Cowboy" and "To Die For," and freshman scenarist Mike Rich should be commended for shunning negative racial images. The problem with Rich's deeply moving screenplay is that neither Van Sant nor he is content with strictly exploring the surrogate father and son relationship between William and Jamal. Instead, they expand the plot with disposable subplots. They follow Jamal to his finishing school where he encounters Claire (Anna Paquin of "X-Men"), a rich vanilla-white girl who likes him, in an episodic love story. Worse, they contrive an adversarial relationship with F. Murray Abraham's snobbish English teacher, who also turns out to be one of Forrester's old enemies. Indeed, "Finding Forrester" has a touch of "Amadeus" to it. Dr. Crawford, the supervisor of the school's creative writing contest, is obviously jealous. He has unbridled contempt for athletes, insists Jamal lacks the intellectual flair to pen the work that he has turned in for credit.

Altogether, "Finding Forrester" qualifies as a rewarding film flawed by half-baked melodramatics, slow pacing, and inconsistent characterization.
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The rest of those who have gone before us...cannot steady the unrest of those who follow.
lastliberal15 March 2009
I just finished watching Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, and I wanted to revisit this film, which like Paranoid Park is focused on teens, an apparent theme of Van Sants.

Jamal (Rob Brown - Stop-Loss) is a typical black teen that plays down his intelligence and love of reading and writing and focuses on basketball to fit in with his homeboys.

Jamal has some great lines, like when he give a history lesson on B.M.W. to Massie (Glenn Fitzgerald). But, he was about to find someone that would stretch him to the limit (William Forrester - Sean Connery), and get stretched himself.

His test scores get him into a prestigious school, where he meets Claire (Anna Paquin - The Piano, "True Blood"). He also has to deal with a snobbish professor (F. Murray Abraham) and a threatened black student (Matthew Noah Word).

He learns some valuable lessons about life while his writing improves.

An amazing movie. It even has a cameo by Matt Damon at the end.
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A pretty good drama about finding your talent and figuring out what to do with it
This movie is, among other things, about finding your talent, that one thing that you can do better than most other people, and figuring out what you're going to do with that talent. This is material that nearly everyone will be able to relate to, and it's handled pretty good, with only fairly few cliches. The plot is good, and it moves along nicely throughout the movie, at a reasonably good pace. The acting is pretty good, both Sean Connery and the other male lead did good jobs, though I found that Connery overacted a bit in some of the scenes. Most of the supporting actors were pretty good. The characters are well-written and their actions are credible, though I think Connery's character was overly eccentric in some scenes. Something that continuously annoyed me was the erratic camera movements which are especially obvious in the basketball scenes. I think they were meant to emphasize on how intense it was, but I think that 8 Mile did a much better job at that than this movie. I guess some people will like this for its message, some people will like it for its good performances... I have to admit, even though the message is good, and the performances are pretty good, I wasn't *that* impressed by this movie. I've been told that it's very similar to an earlier Gus Van Sant movie, Good Will Hunting; I'll have to check that out, to find out if it's better than this. I recommend this to fans of Sean Connery, people who find the plot appealing and/or fans of drama movies. It's pretty good, but not great. 7/10
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Busta Story
ferguson-67 January 2001
Greetings again from the darkness. Reading, Writing, Teaching, Basketball, Baseball, and Class Differences all in one movie. A nice story with no sex scenes and very little profanity (relatively speaking). Gus Van Sant directs with a very heavy hand rather than just letting the story speak. Newbie Rob Brown shows some promise as Jamal, a ghetto basketball player who has real ability as a writer. Sean Connery stars as William Forrester, a reclusive, once-great author, who becomes Jamal's mentor. Predictably, Jamal opens the door to the real world for Forrester. Some great moments in this one including Connery's statement that a shunned writer can become a "dangerous" teacher. F. Murray Abraham, one of the hardest working character actors around, recreates his Salieri role from "Amadeus" as the not quite good enough evil authority figure. Anna Paquin (really grown up nicely since 1993's "The Piano") has the minor role of rich white girl interested in poor, smart black boy. This theme is not really explored, although the potential with her rich, powerful Dad could have provided new insight. As a matter of fact, this is definitely a story of the two leads. No other character is really developed, including F. Murray Abraham's. I did enjoy the tribute the Connery on Jamal's basketball "The Rock". Duality provided a nice touch. My tidbit on this one is to watch for Joey Buttafuoco (yes, from the Amy Fisher mess) in a brief role as a night guard. Also, check out the amazing instumental "Over The Rainbow" performed by Bill Friesell (not the butchered vocal version at the end). I'd like to see Busta Ryhmes in more screen roles, the camera loves him - and he appears to reciprocate! Overall nice movie with interesting script.
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Finding a Horrible Film.
anaconda-4065811 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Finding Forrester (2000): Dir: Gus Van Sant / Cast: Rob Brown, Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes: After falling from grace upon the release of his pathetic so-called shot by shot remake of Psycho, Gus Van Sant decides to return to what worked before but instead of making a decent movie he xeroxes his previous success. Here is a drama about rediscovery with Rob Brown as a student sent to a private school. He and his friends play basketball and chatter about the window above them. He is dared to enter and steal something but he accidentally leaves his backpack. When it falls from the window the following day he discovers his essays corrected. Van Sant is basically duplicating Good Will Hunting with Brown as Matt Damon and Sean Connery as Robin Williams. F. Murray Abraham fills in for Stellan Skarsgard, and Anna Paquin as a student is just the perfect copy for Minnie Driver. Perhaps Van Sant had so much confidence after the acclaim of Good Will Hunting that he failed to realize what a mistake a remake of Psycho would be. His work here is sufficient but it just seems like he is trying to catch lightning is a bottle twice and not succeeding. Even had this film came out first, it would still be inferior because the other film is better crafted. My best advice would be to find Good Will Hunting and leave Forrester in the lost and hopefully never found bin. Score: 3 / 10
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Glad that I resisted my initial impulse to switch channels
JamesHitchcock6 February 2013
Perhaps appropriately for a film in which allegations of plagiarism play an important role in the plot, "Finding Forrester" is a good example of Hollywood's propensity for self-cannibalisation. (The film's star, Sean Connery, had a few years earlier starred in "Just Cause", another film cobbled together from themes and motifs taken from others). The film's theme of a reclusive but kindly older man assisting a teenage boy with his academic studies seems to have been borrowed from Mel Gibson's "The Man without a Face". The reclusive writer William Forrester bears similarities to the character played by James Earl Jones in "Field of Dreams". (Both characters seem to have been inspired by J. D. Salinger, although while Salinger was a native-born New Yorker, Forrester is originally from Scotland- a detail presumably inserted to suit Connery, who has never had much of a gift for accents). And the character of Jamal, another academically gifted but troubled young man from a working-class background, recalls Gus Van Sant's own "Good Will Hunting".

Jamal Wallace is a black New York teenager whose academic brilliance and talent for basketball win him a scholarship to a prestigious private high school. His relationship with Forrester, who lives in a flat in his neighbourhood, is initially a difficult one- the two first meet when Jamal acts on a dare from a schoolfriend to sneak into the apartment- but eventually the two become friends. Forrester, who has published nothing since his one and only much-praised novel came out in the fifties, is impressed by the young man's talent for writing and agrees to tutor him in this respect.

Plagiarism may be frowned upon in academic life, but not so in Hollywood. Indeed, it is often positively encouraged in the film industry, and the results are not always bad. "Sommersby", for example, is a good film, in my view at least as good as "The Return of Martin Guerre" from which its plot was blatantly lifted. Similarly, "Finding Forrester" is, if not as good a film as "Sommersby", at least an interesting one, and its interest is not diminished by the fact that it contains elements borrowed from other films, because it succeeds in giving those elements a new twist. Van Sant and his scriptwriter use them to comment on race relations in American society, a theme not present in any of the films mentioned above.

The film's main antagonist is Jamal's literature teacher, Professor Crawford. (It would appear that in America the title "professor" can be applied to schoolteachers; in Britain it is reserved for the most distinguished university lecturers). Crawford, himself an unsuccessful writer embittered by the failure of his literary ambitions, is a covert racist who refuses to admit that a black student, especially a black student from a poor background, could have any talent for academic work. To his way of thinking, Jamal's natural sphere is the basketball court, not the classroom, and he takes any opportunity to belittle Jamal's written work. This highlights a problem prevalent in Britain as well as America, the tendency on the part of some white teachers and others in authority to assume that the talents of people from ethnic minorities can only lie in certain directions, generally sport and music, and to overlook the other gifts that they might possess. The film, in fact, can be seen as the story of how Forrester helps Jamal to define his own identity, free from the preconceptions of Crawford and of white society in general. Towards the end of the film Jamal misses two free throw shots in a vital basketball game, and the possibility is raised that he may have done so deliberately in order to confound the perception that black men are good at sport and not much else.

There is a fine performance from Connery as Forrester, testy and obstinate but basically a kindly, decent man. This was to be Connery's penultimate film before retirement; his last was to be "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" from three years later. From an actor nearing the end of his career to one at the very beginning. This was Rob Brown's first-ever film, and he initially only auditioned for a part as an extra. He ended up, however, being cast in the leading role, despite having no previous acting experience, even as an amateur. It was a brave move on Van Sant's part to cast an unknown 16-year-old, but it is one that pays off; Brown is able to bring to his part the sort of freshness and immediacy that are often missing from those films (too many to mention) where teenage schoolchildren are played by established actors in their late twenties. (Or in some cases thirties). There is also a good performance by F. Murray Abraham as Crawford.

The film is partly about challenging preconceptions, and it also overturned one of my own, namely that Van Sant is one of the most overrated directors currently working in the industry, although it must be admitted that this preconception was based upon some strong evidence. I found "Good Will Hunting", for example, long-winded and boring, despite a good acting contribution from Robin Williams, "My Own Private Idaho" and "The Secret Language of Cranes" were confusing and self- consciously artsy, and that awful version of Hitchcock's "Psycho" can serve as an object lesson in how not to remake a classic movie. When I saw "Finding Forrester" on television recently, however, I was glad that I resisted my initial impulse to switch channels as soon as I saw the director's name in the opening credits, because this was the first Van Sant film I actually enjoyed. It combines a provocative look at racial issues with a touching coming-of-age drama about the friendship between a young man and an old one. A very watchable film. 7/10
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An enjoyable but typical Hollywood no-brainer
=G=25 April 2001
A black kid from a Bronx project shoots great hoop and is a very well read closet almost-genius with an apparent photographic memory who has a full scholarship to a top ranked college dropped in his lap. If this weren't improbable enough, he also has a babe (Paquin) practically throw herself at him in spite of the absence of any perceptible personality on his part. As "Finding Forrester" wears on, the implausibilities mount as our young hero (Brown) manages to win the friendship of a reclusive Pulitzer winning author (Connery) who just happens to live across the street from the projects. Hrump! Those who can buy into this typically commercial Hollywood no-brainer fantasy with a one-dimensional hero will likely enjoy it in spite of a too long (2+ hours) run time which doesn't quite accomplish what so obviously set out to. Okay fodder couch potatoes.
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Cerebral Film Within A Unique Context
DKosty12322 November 2007
Sean Connery can make any movie seem better, as if you think of films like Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves - a cameo, or The Hunt For Red October- a full feature. Without him, these films could have been successful maybe. That is the same with this film- maybe.

This is a film which tries to inspire by using an often used theme which rarely happens in real life. That is the rise of someone for a poor neighborhood to a rich one. It is supposed to make you feel good.

Sean Connery & Ron Brown act well together, a special chemistry in this movie. To me the ironic thing is Browns character- Jamal Wallace, actually having a similar name as a former Syracuse University basketball player. I am not sure why this happens in this film as from watching it, it does not appear to be based upon a real story.

It has a lot of a typical feel good story which other films like Good Will Hunting has. The difference is this film takes it slow & easy. It dwells deep into the lead characters. It does leave the major issue- Jamal's possible romance UN-resolved entirely. It hints that even though there is heat between Jamal & an attractive white girl, her daddy would stand in the way & she is too afraid to go there, but leaves this thread dangling as if the film were running too long.

The English Professors drawing of conclusions about Jamal's real abilities illustrates a big problem in our society today. It seems that all our colleges now feel they only need to brain wash students who get straight A's while leaving the rest of them scrambling to scratch out a future. This is a direct parallel to our government dropping it's support of our American economy & forcing our workers to scratch out a living the same way. The sad part is how these brainwashed students think this is fair. They are not old enough to realize how foolish brainwashing their thoughts can be, & how far the media & the system are doing it to them.

This films attempts to rise above the typical level of thoughts with a cerebral theme that can generate thoughts & try to be inspiring. While I found it worthwhile to watch, & entertaining, it left me dangling too scratch out just how good a movie this could have been if it went on to challenge normal more than it winds up doing.

Jamal does challenge Forester, but does not take up the challenge himself. That leaves this film less than a full inspiration & more of a perspiration effort.
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Beautiful story...
Thanos_Alfie19 August 2020
"Finding Forrester" is a Drama movie in which we watch a teenager who is very good on writing finding a very strict and lonely writer. He becomes his mentor and they both start writing stories.

I liked this movie because it had a simple but very interesting plot with some plot twists that made it even more interesting and some moments that I will remember forever. The interpretations of both Sean Connery who played as William Forrester and Rob Brown who played as Jamal Wallace were simply outstanding. The direction which was made by Gus Van Sant was good, simple and he succeeded on presenting how important friendship, companionship and love is to a person's life. Finally, I believe that "Finding Forrester" is a simply beautiful movie that after watching it, you will have learnt more about yourself and I am sure that you will reconsider some things in your life or reevaluate them at least.
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Not Sure Why Connery Was Ignored Come Award Season.
slightlymad2212 June 2017
Continuing my plan to watch every Sean Connery movie in order, I come to the penultimate movie in his filmography Finding Forrester (2000)

Plot In A Paragraph: A young writing protégé (Rob Brown), finds help with a reclusive author (Connery)

The last REALLY good movie Connery made. It's a wonderful performance that was surprisingly snubbed come awards season. Rob Brown gives a really good performance, even more so when you consider it was his debut. F Murray Abraham is his usual great self!! Perfectly annoying!! Matt Damon pops up in a cameo as a lawyer too.

It has a few pacing issues, a few unnecessary scenes and it's quite poorly lit at times too!! But those are minor gripes, and I for one love this movie. It would make my Top 100 of the decade. This is the movie I wished Connery ended his filmography on. But like with Clint Eastwood, he went one more after a great movie. Although Eastwood's last movie was not the disaster that Connery's was.

Finding Forrester grossed $51 million st the domestic box office, to end 2000 as the 50th highest grossing movie of the year.
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Creative writing beyond all bigotry
Dr_Coulardeau9 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a lot more than the story of a black boy from the Bronx finding his full realization in both basket-ball and creative writing. This film is a lot more than the skimming of black public high schools by white private high school to find the winning sportsmen they need. This film is a lot more than the story of a black teenager who finds his mentor, a father substitute since he has no father and his elder brother is not the model he wants, in a famous and yet totally marginal writer, Scottish by origin and bird-loving by choice and passion. This film is a lot more than the exacting tyrant a failed writer can become when he decides to compensate his failure in writing by becoming a creative writing and literature teacher. And this film is also a lot more than the phenomenal emotional shock it is for an aging man, diagnosed with cancer, entirely solitary and marginalized to find by accident and the insistence on the side of the foundling, the younger man who is going to be his follow-up next generation. He gets out of his cocoon. He gets out of his seclusion. Even so much that he will save his foundling from academic probation and even open up the door to his future. This film is all that together and a lot more. It is the story of loyalty, commitment and yet betrayal and salvation. Deeply emotional all along the film gets to a poignant ending when the death of the older man is announced by a lawyer to the younger man, and when this younger man is given the full legacy of the older man: the keys to the older man's den and sanctuary in the Bronx, a final farewell manuscript letter and the manuscript of his second and posthumous novel to be prefaced by the younger man. The racial problem is dealt with delicately but thoroughly showing how little race has to do with creative imagination, or even plain human love, but also that it has a lot to do with some preconceived ideas that a black basket ball player cannot be a creative writer of any excellence. A film to watch several times just for fun and emotional inspiration. You can always trace and track all the visual or situational allusions to many other films, like Matt Damon as a young lawyer. I have seen that somewhere else. Solve the many riddles of the type like the older man on his old fashioned bike cycling to the private school to save his black younger friend from ostracism and rejection. He just misses a black gown flying around him.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Vincennes Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Val de Marne Créteil, CEGID.
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Top notch all the way
helpless_dancer23 July 2002
This was one of the finest dramas I've seen in a good while. Connery was dead on as the alcoholic recluse who discovers something long lost after meeting a gifted teen. A near perfect story with flawless performances and gripping dialogue. 10 out of 10.
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Nothing great
Anonymous_Maxine17 December 2004
I remember when Finding Forrester was released there was all this buzz about how great it was, just like there was about Almost Famous, another movie, like Finding Forrester, generally about getting the respect that you deserve, although neither movie deserves the respect that they get. The plot is an exercise in exploring massive clichés from movies about finding talent in unexpected places, and not about doing anything new within any genre. The basic theme is of the rugged genius who is held down by a jealous and/or suspicious and accusatory – one might say racist, in this case – superior, but who breaks through all of the barriers erected in front of him. Luckily, here we have the addition of the character of a great but lost writer, who wrote a single classic but subsequently disappeared from the public eye, only to have his heart captured by this inner city kid with the gift of a great writing ability.

Sean Connery has a difficult time fitting this role, or maybe I just have a hard time seeing him as a great writer, the real talent in this movie is Rob Brown in his film debut playing the part of Jamal Wallace. There is a great scene where his jerk teacher starts reciting quotes from great writers in an effort to show Jamal and the rest of the class how much smarter he is than any of them, and Jamal repeatedly identifies each author after only a few words. It's a great lesson about teaching methods, although I like to think that there are few teachers who deliberately try to make their students feel inferior to themselves, but I know they're out there. I've had a few myself, although I don't think I've had any as bad as this guy. His problem might be that he's teaching at an inner city school, since he is so obviously racist.

Sean Connery and Rob Brown work well together, despite their relationship being so contrived. William Forrester is the author of a single classic who apparently has spent the last 40 years or so rarely leaving his apartment and writing masterpieces that he refuses to publish because of a paralyzing fear of being critically misinterpreted, a risk that every artist of any kind in the history of mankind has run by publicizing their work. The ones that never publicized their work are quickly forgotten.

Jamal plays basketball with friends near Forrester's apartment, from which he watches them with binoculars, which is creepy indeed. On a dare, Jamal sneaks into his apartment and is scared away by him in such a rush that he leaves his backpack behind with a notebook with some of his writing in it. It's not long before his backpack comes sailing out of Forrester's window with lots of corrections and suggestions in it. This setup for the relationship between Jamal and Forrester is clever, until you realize that this guy has been holed up in that apartment for decades because he doesn't want anyone to read his work. All those years and all he needed was someone to leave some experimental writing in his apartment to get him going again.

There are lots of movies that get a lot done along the way. Finding Forrester, on the other hand, exists entirely as a setup for its conclusion, which is indeed satisfying. It's like every schoolboy's dream. One of them, anyway. I suppose schoolboys have a lot of dreams. One of my stranger ones was the wish that I could freeze time and go up and erase everything on the board anytime the teacher wrote something up there. The ensuing mayhem would have been too gleeful for me to contain. The movie is essentially about Jamal's transition from getting through school on athletic scholarships and getting through school because of his intellectual prowess, and in that way it succeeds very well. It is a satisfying movie that will make you feel good, but it is undeniably a formula film.
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