antwone fisher is about as touching a film as i can stand to watch. i realize that i am getting weepy in my old age, but this one just grabbed my by the heart and wrenched it until there were no more tears for me to cry. except now that it's been 12 hours since i saw it, and it manages to bring up more.
what is it? it's a love story which is at once very simple and challengingly complex. what's simple about it is the deft way in which it handles love between a man and a woman. love is such a rarely told story, because hollywood is infatuated with infatuation, romancing romance and seducing audiences into watching seduction. such are subjects for sandra bullock, meg ryan and any dozen hotties sleeping their way up the studio food chain. this film gives us simple, honest young love, that's about as pure as i've seen. derek luke delivers in terms of pure emotional honesty, i have to go back to john cusak in 'high fidelity'.
what's complex about it is that it is a total repudiation of culture of poverty arguments which are inevitably the subtext of one of any discussion of the difficulties black men face in america. i'll let this sentence stand and debate the points for another year and a half.
one might think the film resembles 'men of honor' with cuba gooding, but it is an order of magnitude more subtle and personal. antwone fisher has no public statements to make about himself. military honor and recognition do not serve as proxies for triumph and pride. this is all about the man and his own journey from a childhood of terror to a manhood of strength and sensitivity. it is more redemptive than 'the shawshank redemption'.
denzel has made a cinematic smash with something i have never seen anyone do in film before. which is to get an audience to cheer, cry and grin at the mere presence of 30 blackfolks in a frame. in that, despite the conventional nature of this love story, denzel is proved this to be the cosby show of film. and as with the cosby show, i have been shocked into recognition of the power of video when the characters are drawn from slices of life that look like mine. but you don't have to be a member of alpha phi alpha to be moved by this film.
four stars, three hankies, see it twice, it's the number one film of the year.