Denzel Washington offers us a Black manís coming of age story with
the grace and honesty that any of his peers would be hard pressed
to match. For his directorial debut, Washington chose the heartwarming
story of Navy Seaman Antwone Fisher (played by Derek Luke) who,
as an adult, faces the demons that haunt him from his childhood.
As a result of Fisherís anger management problems, he is forced
to seek the psychiatric help that will change his life forever.
Antwone Fisher is a man who suffered many abuses as a child: verbal,
physical, sexual and emotional. Raised in the foster system, Fisherís
care was never on the top of anyoneís priority list until he meets
naval psychiatrist Jerome Davenport (played by Denzel Washington).
Ordered to receive psychiatric treatment, Fisher initially refuses
to open up to the man who probes the surface of his angry exterior.
The laws of self-preservation have taught him well and trust is
not something that he easily places in others. Davenport, realizing
that this is not an issue that can be forced, uses patience as his
weapon of choice in breaking down Fisherís defenses. Eventually
Fisher allows Davenport into the world of his childhood and the
many unresolved family issues that are manifesting themselves in
his adulthood. Encouraged by Davenport and his sweetheart, fellow
Seaman Cheryl Smolley (played by Joy Bryant), Fisher sets out to
find the biological family he always dreamed about but never knew.
In a time period when Black men are rarely allowed to express vulnerability,
Washington deftly explores the catalyst behind one manís seemingly
violent exterior. Absent are the easy attention getters: unnecessary
violence and gratuitous sex. The story that real-life Antwone Fisher
has woven together confronts the issue about the emotional state
of todayís young Black boys and questions our communityís commitment
to their well-being. Lukeís performance is delivered with such compassion
that there wonít be a dry eye in the house.