I’d heard a little about this movie before and entered into watching it merely expecting to see another of Sean Connery‘s typical Connery performances. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, he is a very good actor, but he always plays himself. Other than that, I had no inclination what the story was about so there was surprise from the outset seeing that the movie was starring Busta Rhymes and was set in the Bronx.
How surprised I was as this gentle and perfectly paced tale brings together two people who share a common love for writing, one is a faded writer who once had success, and the other is a new talent who faces so many obstacles in his path to let his talent shine.
There are similarities to other films such as Dead Poets Society, but what captures the viewer and their imagination is the restraint and the simplicity. There are no great acts or contrived emotionally charged plot twists, this is real and it’s character driven. You believe in the characters, the acting is so natural and understated you are easily drawn into the movie and the characters lives, and it’s hard to break free. Choices and actions are small, compassionate, and you can relate them to real life.
The relationship between Forrester (Connery) and Jamal (Rob Brown) is superbly played with Brown holding back perfectly until the scene where his restraint fails, and Connery giving one of the most emotive and complex performances I have ever seen. His performance is simply stunning and totally off of the Connery mould. Watching his face as he struggles with demons long past was extraordinary.
Overall the story is very well written, and doesn’t fail to pull you along with the emotional journey and yet never hit the twee button. You can feel the passion that Connery has for writing, and see the complexity of emotions as he wants to help the boy but gets pulled back by hidden problems. Problems which slowly reveal themselves and get shared and dealt with in the most natural of ways, again never falling foul of an emotion overload.
It’s warm, uplifting and an inspiring story and I recommend it to anyone. I really can’t be vocal enough about the stunning performance by Connery, and the matching performance by Brown. Even Rhymes shows that he has talent.