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Finding Forrester

Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Sean Connery, Rob Brown,
et al.
Length: 136 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Columbia/Tristar


Forrester is a reclusive writer whose first novel won the Pulitzer prize in 1964, and he never wrote another book. Jamal is a 16-year old African American student who happens to be brilliant, and who hides his talents behind a basketball. When he breaks into the apartment (on a dare) of a mysterious old guy who peers out the window at the neighborhood basketball games, he gets spooked by the old fellow and makes a quick exit, dropping his backpack in the process. The old man returns the backpack by leaving it on the sidewalk, and Jamal opens it to find that all of his school notebooks have been scrutinized and marked up with commentary on his writing. Curious and fascinated, Jamal returns to the apartment and asks the old man to tutor him in writing. Forrester balks. He wants no part of anything having to do with the outside world. Jamal does not give up, however, and thus begins a mentor/mentee relationship that showcases the gains to be had by staying open and in the moment.

This movie is ultimately about re-finding ourselves in the midst of new supports, which may not be family (as Jamal writes in his winning essay), but which in many ways turn into the family we need in the present. It is also a beautifully rendered portrait of the principles of attraction what attracted Jamal to Forrester, and what allowed Forrester to respond, comes from what both needed at that particular time in their lives. In some ways, it seems their higher selves knew that their edges would be challenged and developed by this relationship. Finding Forrester is a thoughtful, spiritual, and inspiring movie, especially for those who recognize the motivation that comes from being in a mentor/mentee relationship.

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