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ANTWONE FISHER

"'Antwone Fisher,' the story of a troubled young African-American sailor whose sessions with a Navy psychiatrist prod him to embark on a scary but ultimately healing journey of self-discovery, is a movie so profoundly in touch with its own feelings that it transcends its formulaic tics...As a director Mr. Washington shows a confident grasp of cinematic narrative in a hearty meat-and-potatoes style. But the most remarkable aspect of his behind-the-camera debut is his brilliantly surefooted handling of actors...from Derek Luke, the newcomer who plays the movie's title character, he has elicited a compelling and complex character study that strikes a universal chord. Mr. Luke's performance is hands down the year's most auspicious screen acting debut." -- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"... an assured directorial debut that goes straight for the tear ducts...Even though 'Antwone Fisher' aims unequivocally for that 'Beautiful Mind' category of filmmaking, in which difficult human complexities meet stand-up-and-cheer solutions, it's very affecting...As Antwone, newcomer Luke aches with vulnerability." -- Desson Howe, The Washington Post

"Not only is it unusual that this emotional story of how a damaged boy became a whole man made it to the screen at all, it is a measure of its strengths that it overcomes storytelling flaws that would have disabled a weaker project...If 'Antwone Fisher' works in fits and starts, that cannot be said of Luke's performance in the title role. The young actor has great presence on screen, bringing this character with a formidable chip on his shoulder alive in an unforced way...Much of the credit for this goes to Washington, who has wisely avoided getting distracted by technical fripperies and has instead concentrated in his directing debut on infusing his distinctively natural style on his young cast." -- Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"Denzel Washington, in his debut as a director, delivers a solid piece of craftsmanship... Newcomer Luke cuts to the heart as Antwone, Joy Bryant shines as his girlfriend, and Novella Nelson is scarily good as the foster parent who raised Antwone when his mother abandoned him. The uniformly fine performances are a tribute to Washington, who plays the shrink with his customary command." -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"To dismiss 'Antwone Fisher' as derivative would be to deny its considerable emotional power as well as its ability to use these familiar elements to tell a story about African-American families--and families in general--that feels new after all. It earns the tears that it jerks...'Antwone Fisher' most of all celebrates family in a way that's deeply felt by the director and screenwriter/subject and no doubt will be shared by viewers of any ethnicity. The movie is in touch not only with the deadened nerve endings that accompany isolation but also the rejuvenating powers of a warm embrace." -- Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune