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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Antwone Fisher': The Emotionally Galvanizing Story of a Young Navy Man's Passage of Self-Discovery

Movie poster for the 2002 film Antwone Fisher

Antwone Fisher (2002) is an emotionally galvanizing human drama starring Derek Luke as Antwone "Fish" Fisher, a capricious young man serving in the U.S. Navy. Prone to violent outbursts, Fisher is demoted and restricted after an altercation with a fellow sailor—his sentencing including mandatory psychiatric treatment under the care of Naval psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington).

Fisher's subsequent sessions with Davenport provide the heart of the storyline, with Davenport challenging Fisher to explore his underlying animosities—and the childhood trauma that feeds his incessant outrage. As Fisher develops a relationship with a female sailor named Cheryl (Joy Bryant), Davenport works to explore Fisher's feelings for Cheryl as a bridge to positivity and healing. Ultimately Davenport urges Fisher seek out the mother who abandoned him at birth, which proves to be a challenging quest for both closure and reconciliation.

Directed by Washington (in his directorial debut) and based on the real-life seaman's memoir Finding Fish, Antwone Fisher is a powerful and unforgettable tale of human resilience. Washington hits all the right notes in his depiction of Fisher's struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and strained interpersonal relationships, while Luke embodies a lifetime of repressed emotions and grief to perfection. Highlighted by a brief but devastating appearance by Viola Davis, it's one of the finest and most indelible depictions of mental health treatment on screen this century.


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