Finding Forrester

A 16-year-old scholar-athlete (Rob Brown) in inner-city Manhattan who’s more or less Michael Jordan and James Joyce rolled into one (although this doesn’t account for his having memorized the first three or four words of famous lines by Kipling, Coleridge, and several other poets) gets to be tutored by a Scottish J.D. Salinger who’s a reclusive genius (Sean Connery aiming to win the Robin Williams sweepstakes). The young hero gets a scholarship at an exclusive New York school, where he’s bullied by a ludicrously spineless teacher (F. Murray Abraham), and he has a budding interracial romance with the daughter (Anna Paquin) of the school’s biggest donor that confusedly goes nowhere (I presume because it test-marketed poorly). If director Gus Van Sant had always been a hack it wouldn’t matter so much, but personally I find this form of licking the audience’s cheeks like an obsequious puppy deeply offensive. 133 min. (JR)

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