Sean's mentor to Rob Brown's student
"No thinking. That comes later. Your first draft should come straight from the heart."
That sums Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester.
Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) is an unusual young man. At the outset, he seems to be just another 16-year-old Afro-American basketball player.
But there's more to him than meets the eye. He is a genius passionate about writing. When not trying to fit in with the ghetto crowd, Jamal pens down his thoughts clandestinely in his locker room or the clammy confines of his house.
One eventful night, his cronies dare Jamal to sneak into an apartment. The apartment happens to be inhabited by none other than the eccentric, lonely, famous author William Forrester (Sean Connery). On the verge of being caught redhanded, the young kid scoots off, only to leave his bag behind.
Mr Forrester aka Windows (so named thanks to his habit of staring outside his window through binoculars),
goes through some of the notes scribbled down by the young intruder.
Next thing he knows, Jamal finds his notes bombarded with corrections and remarks like 'specify', 'bullshit', 'juvenile', and 'this one's good'.
Jamal musters up the courage and convinces Forrester into guiding and mentoring him.
What starts as a chance meeting blooms into a beautiful, benevolent relationship.
Meanwhile, Jamal manages impressive test scores and wins a free-of-cost education at a prestigious Manhattan prep school.
Subplots -- like Jamal's love interest Claire (Anna Paquin), racial rivalry at the basketball court; accusations of plagiarism by his English teacher, Professor Crawford (F Murray Abraham), at his new school -- set off sparks but fail to develop into something relevant.
Obviously, director Gus Van Sant still has his Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting hangup. He repeats the misguided youth-meets-his-mentor theme. That he draws his inspiration from J D Salinger to sketch the outline of his character, William Forrester, is another visible factor.
If Salinger had Catcher In The Rye, Forrester boasts of Avalon Landing.
Discrepancies surface in the script in the form of writer Mike Rich's at times unconvincing portrayal of Forrester. Absconding from the public eye for being criticised is rather implausible.
But then you tend to overlook the flaws every time the incredible Sean Connery and Rob Brown share the screen during one of their brainstorming sessions.
Connery, who has also coproduced the film, gives Forrester a distinctive character and integrity.
Sixteen-year-old Brown, who has had no experience whatsoever in acting, is a revelation. He brilliantly
exhibits Jamal's brooding dilemma, affluent desires and underlying hope to make it big.
The film wears a dusty, unkempt look further enhanced by Harris Savides. A snazzy background score, mostly jazz by Miles Davis, sets the mood.
Finding Forrester is a heartwarming, sensitive film with some hardhitting lines that stay with you long after you have left the theatre.