Antwone Fisher and Dr. Wonderful

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Antwone Fisher and Dr. Wonderful

          Sam Fisher

           English II

       Professor Benandre

       February 16, 2009
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                            Antwone Fisher and Dr. Wonderful

       Antwone Fisher is a film about a young African American sailor with anger issues

his troubled past and the Psychiatrist who helps him confront his demons. This film has

many things in common with Good Will Hunting both of them feature a Dr. Wonderful

character, a Psychiatrist who helps the patient deal with a demon from his past and after a

few sessions voila the emotional wound is healed. It’s a film of confrontations, with the

past and present.

       Antwone Fisher goes into the same category as great films such as Good Will

Hunting, where the troubled protagonist is forced to see a psychiatrist at first resists and

then opens up and the psychiatrist and patient end up helping each other make

realizations about oneself and making changes to better themselves. Both movies suggest

rather than putting in hours of hard work, that psychological problems can be solved

simply by confronting ones painful past and having a good cry as both movies portray in

Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams character tells Matt Damon its okay its not his

fault gets him to cry and voila there is an epiphany Damon’s character realizes what he

needs to do to be a successful human being. A similar scene in Antwone Fisher at

Antwone’s graduation of his Japanese classes when Dr. Davenport tells Antwone its time

to move on and come to terms with his past, Antwone reacts by getting angry because he

at first feels that Davenport is abandoning him. Antwone cries Davenport tells him it is

okay and explains that he needs to go and find his family in Cleveland, and voila

epiphany Antwone goes on a search for his family as a well-balanced individual. Films

like these are dangerous, in both films but more in Antwone Fisher the Doctor Patient
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relationship is violated, Antwone meets at Davenport’s house, goes to his thanksgiving

dinner, Davenport becomes more of a father figure than a Psychiatrist to Antwone.

       Survival, Antwone survives throughout the entire film, he survives being beaten

the foster home, survives after being abandoned by his mother. Antwone chooses ways

to survive, after his best friend Jesse is killed robbing a store he survives by joining the

Navy, after being abused he runs to his friends house where he finds some asylum.

Family and roots, the film shows that part of Antwone’s self discovery is connecting with

people. Throughout his years he built a protective barrier around himself so he could not

be abandoned and kept himself away from human interaction through touching. That’s

why hands are so important in the Thanksgiving scene at Davenport’s house, in the

prayer before the meal everyone at the table is holding hands they are connected to one

another and all comfortable as the camera pans around to each set of hands and then to

Antwone’s face to show that he is unsure of what to think, but then feels comfortable

inside of the circle, realizes that inside the circle he is safe. Like the opening scene when

little Antwone is alone and then led into a room full of all his relatives past and present

and is given pancakes, because if there is the smell of pancakes he is safe. “If it smelled

like pancakes I was okay” (Washington 2003) this leads to the final scene after

confronting his mother he steps into his uncle’s house and is greeted with open arms by

his whole extended family, then the matriarch of the family takes Antwone’s hands into

hers and says welcome creating that safe environment of love and understanding, and he

knows its okay because there are pancakes.

       Antwone Fisher written by Antwone Fisher the film is based on his life although

some of the characters and situations are false. The film was directorial debut of Denzel
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Washington who skillfully coaxes great performances out of his entire cast including

himself. In his first film Washington does not take the subtle route, his gestures in the

film are large, such as the opening scene of Antwone’s dream where he is standing alone

out in a field subject to the winds without any protection, which is what the adult

Antwone feels he does not have any family to fall back on, so in the dream Antwone is

led into a room full of relatives as the music starts into a minor chord which becomes

sweeter and more melodic as he see’s what is on the table and his families joy of having

him. Of course there are pancakes but before he can feel safe he is startled awake by the

things that changed him a woman’s face a gunshot wound and a cowbell, those represent

the ways Antwone was abandoned and why he is angry at the world. The lighting in the

film is very contrasted in parts of the film where terrible demons are confronted the

lighting is dark and the camera focuses on Antwone such as the scene in the brig where

Antwone is beginning to recount the tale of his sexually abusive babysitter. Or in the

Davenport’s office it is usually very light where growth and reflection is happening.

       The Actors of this film do a great job directed by one of the greatest actors of the

past few years Denzel Washington his great knowledge of screen acting clearly shows in

the way he handles his cast. Derek Luke who plays Antwone Fisher, when we first meet

him, the character coiled like a spring ready to defend himself from the hostile world, his

walk is part of his defensive shell a kind of alpha male strut yet something that does not

attract to much attention his costume is mostly his military uniform except for the

emotional zenith of the film when he confronts his mother and discovers his fathers

family where he is wearing a light blue sweater similar to the color but on newborn male

babies to symbolize that he is new that world is alien to him. Denzel Washington who
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plays Dr. Jerome Davenport, the good doctor who has a stiff upper lip until Antwone

makes him look deeper into himself. Washington plays Davenport convincingly making

the audience believe that is his life day in and out. His costume, which generally consists

of officer’s khaki uniform, and something that distinguishes him as a learned man a

cardigan or pair of reading glasses perched on his nose.

       Antwone Fisher is not a film that breaks genre boundaries but a film that fits into

the good doctor movie and the facing ones own demons. Though it is dangerous what the

movie does by possibly convincing the public that personal problems can be solved when

the psychiatrist bends the rules and breaks the doctor patient relationship that the persons

problems will be solved incredibly quickly sadly that is not the case. Denzel proves he

can direct as well as act in this sweeping emotional film that leaves with a lump in their

throat at many points during the film.
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Holden, Stephen (2002, December 19). A Director and Hero Find Answers in Detail.

    The New York Times.

Mcfarlane, S. (2004). Antwone Fisher: How dangerous is “Dr. Wonderful”?.

     Australasian Psychiatry. 12(2). 176-178.

Washington, D. (Director). (2003). Antwone Fisher [Motion Picture]. US:

    Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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