“Finding Forrester” (2000, PG-13), reviewed by Jennifer Anne F. Messing.
Finding Forrester tells the story of Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), a bright, talented 16-year-old basketball player in New York City who aspires to become a successful writer. It is a two-hour, sixteen minute, Columbia Pictures 2000 release, in color, directed by Gus Van Sant, starring Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham, and Anna Paquin. This movie offers thought-provoking drama and inspiration for the dreamer inside each one of us.
When Jamal receives exceptionally high test scores on a state wide standardized exam, and because of his recognized talent in basketball, he is awarded a full scholarship to attend a prestigious prep school in Manhattan. Jamal later meets and becomes friends with a reclusive, Pulitzer-prize winning author, William Forrester (Sean Connery).
When Forrester learns that Jamal dreams of becoming a writer, and that Jamal has recently won a scholarship to a school with challenging academic standards, he agrees to become his writing mentor. Forrester also recognizes Jamal’s remarkable writing talent first-hand as he reads his work on many occasions. At the new school, Jamal continues to pursue his goals of playing basketball and of improving his skills in writing. A fellow student, Claire (Anna Paquin), befriends Jamal and does her best to offer friendship and encouragement to Jamal, who on various occasions is faced with having to overcome obstacles imposed on him by his bitter literature teacher, Professor Robert Crawford (F. Murray Abraham).
The mentoring relationship between Forrester and Jamal causes both men to learn a lot of lessons from each other about life, and about friendship—about discerning who our true friends are and being loyal to them when it counts.
One evening Jamal invites Forrester to a basketball game, fully aware that social events are something that Forrester routinely avoids. When they attend that basketball game together Forrester starts to realize that his friendship with Jamal is challenging him to reexamine the reclusive ways he has indulged in for many years. Jamal, meanwhile, is continually maturing into a sensible, level-headed young man as his friendship grows with Forrester; his outlook on life broadens with the experience of attending a new school along with his being tutored by a gifted man and talented author. Jamal is also discovering much about the real cost of seriously pursuing a writing career and the value of hard work and determination.
Finding Forrester is a choice film for parents/adults to watch with teens. This movie has very minimal instances of sexual innuendos, and a bit more sprinkling of profane language than some of us may want—but its many excellent life themes and messages do elevate its overall value. In addition, the absence of violence contributes to this film’s great appeal for family viewing.
Two noteworthy things about this movie are the wonderful acting by both Rob Brown (Jamal Wallace) making his big-screen debut, and by Sean Connery (William Forrester), as well as the well-crafted, terse dialogue especially evident in the interactions between Connery and Brown.
One of the most important themes in this movie is the message that it’s never too early, nor too late, to begin pursuing our life’s passion—our heart’s desire. Jamal Wallace offered his best both in his writing and his basketball pursuit, giving his all to make the most of the providential opportunities that had opened up for him at age sixteen. William Forrester seized upon a later season of his life to finally pursue some of his lifelong dreams that would have remained unfulfilled had he let cynicism about his life or bitterness get in the way.
After having viewed this movie with your teen, parents can take advantage of the moment to ask, “What is your dream? What do you want to achieve with your life? How can I support you better to fulfill these goals of yours?” Sometimes we may be pleasantly surprised to hear our teen open up and tell us about a dream of theirs we may never even have known about.
I hope you find many opportune moments to impact your teen’s life for his or her good this summer. And happy viewing!
Movie Trailer: “Finding Forrester” stars Sean Connery and Rob Brown
Drama/ Inspirational/ Teen Movie. Rated PG-13. Appropriate for family viewing, with teens ages 13 and up. Photo credits: Columbia Pictures.
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Portland, Oregon residents borrow “Finding Forrester” (DVD) from the Multnomah County Library, tel. 503-988-5234.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing is a 2018 Cascade Writing Contest WINNER (“Published Short Story”), a multi-published author, poet, and speaker with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Religious Education. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, she has authored three books and more than 250 articles, short stories, and poems published in 60 magazines, including: The Storyteller, The Gem, LIVE, Evangel, FellowScript, and The Proverbs 31 Woman. Originally from the Philippines, Jennifer Anne has been married to Michael Messing for 28 years. They are the parents of three young adult children and reside in Oregon, USA.
Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Get information about her two award-winning books, Morning's Promise: Poetic Moments in His Presence and Everlasting Love: Romantic Vignettes for a Woman’s Heart on this website, on Amazon and Barnes&Noble online.
Copyrighted © by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. All rights reserved. Contact the author for reprint information. Email: Author@jenniferannemessing.com.