I am unsure why I did not write something about Antwone Fisher the first time I saw the movie based on his life, directed by Denzel Washington. Maybe it is because I am not black, did not come from a broken home, and had a mother and father who I knew and shared a deep love with. Perhaps it is because I could not appreciate Antwone's hardships.
Having just finished watching the movie a second time, though, I feel gripped by Fisher's story and have a need to write about it just a little. Derek Luke does a remarkable job of portraying Antwone Fisher and I believe Washington's direction to be superb. The story tells itself in the watching, and I urge people to rent the DVD, but three scenes touched me deeply.
The first is obvious, as it is when Fisher realizes that his mother is not capable of being his family, yet he has discovered a warm and full bond there for his taking within the breast of his dead father's kin. Anyone who does not cry tears of joy when his grandmother takes him by the hand is not human.
More powerful are two other scenes. I alluded to his mother in the last paragraph, and the reality of her being unable to let Antwone past her guilt and regret is incredibly true and painful. Still, Antwone tells her what he has become; maybe not for her, but to fill in the gaps of his life by allowing himself to see what a strong and successful man he now is. He needs to know this and the emptiness his mother has left him with will not be enough to bring him down.
Joy Bryant, as his girlfriend, helps provide for the most gripping and unique scene of the movie; Antwone's first sexual experience that is not swollen with the bruises of abuse. It is rare for Hollywood to allow for the expression of a male's sexually abused past, and this movie wears the scene with tenderness and fragility. Luke gives us an exposed man who must trust Bryant's love and sweetness.
This movie is a beautiful portrayal of a difficult life that would not give up, but needs the help of a caring doctor (whose relationship with Antwone Fisher I do not feel I can do justice to), a loving girlfriend and a family that feels blessed to set wrongs they did not commit but were cheated by, too, set to right as best as they can.