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Finding Forrester

original film poster
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Produced by Sean Connery
Laurence Mark
Rhonda Tollefson
Written by Mike Rich
Starring Sean Connery
Rob Brown
F. Murray Abraham
Anna Paquin
Cinematography Harris Savides
Editing by Valdís Óskarsdóttir
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) December 19, 2000
Running time 136 min.
Gross revenue USD$80,049,764 [1]

Finding Forrester is a 2000 movie written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. A black American teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), is invited into a prestigious private high school. By chance, Jamal befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Sean Connery), through whom he refines his natural talent for writing and comes to terms with his identity. Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham, and Busta Rhymes star in supporting roles. Connery also served as one of the film's producers. It is commonly thought that Connery's character, Forrester, is loosely based on Catcher In The Rye author J. D. Salinger.

A particular line that Connery's character utters, "You're the man now, dog", was the inspiration for the interet memetic site



The film opens with 16-year-old Jamal (Rob Brown) sleeping in his bedroom, which is stacked with books, and then jumping up to go meet his friends on the basketball court. The friends begin to discuss a recluse (Sean Connery) who lives on the top floor of the building across from the schoolyard and regularly notice him watching them from his window, although they never see his face. One day after school, one of the boys challenges Jamal to sneak into the apartment. Jamal accepts the challenge and sneaks in through the window, but is surprised by the recluse and flees, leaving his backpack. Later, Jamal confronts the man who occasionally delivers supplies to the recluse and displays his gifted intellect discussing his BMW car. After the man leaves, Jamal's backpack is dropped to the street. Jamal finds the man read his journals and made editor notes in it. Jamal returns to the apartment and requests the man read more of his writings, but is told to begin with 5000 words on why Jamal should "stay the fuck out of his home", which Jamal promptly completes.

At school, Jamal has just completed state required testing where it is revealed that he is an intellectually gifted student, which he has hidden from others by performing just average in his schoolwork. His school counselor sets up a meeting with Jamal's mother and a recruiter from a highly selective private school, Mallor Callow, which covets Jamal for his athletic ability, as much as for his intellectual capability. The recruiter offers Jamal a scholarship, suggesting that his play on the basketball court is welcome, but not absolutely necessary. At his new school, Jamal makes friends with Claire Spence (Anna Paquin), but clashes with his arrogant literature teacher, Professor Robert Crawford (F. Murray Abraham). Crawford assigns the students to read a novel written by William Forrester, his only novel despite its great success. Jamal is led to believe the recluse in the apartment is William Forrester. He returns to the apartment and confronts the man. Forrester reveals his identity and agrees to continue to help Jamal with his writing on the condition Jamal not reveal his location to anyone and not question Forrester about his novel or his personal life. Forrester also tells Jamal that Crawford once attempted to have his own book published, but Forrester blocked it, and later blocked a biography of him Crawford had also written.

Jamal and Forrester grow closer as Jamal's writing in class improves. Eventually Jamal convinces Forrester to go out of the apartment and attend a game at Madison Square Garden, but Forrester cannot handle the crowds and has a a severe anxiety attack. After leaving the game, Jamal takes William to see Yankee Stadium as a surprise. He and Forrester go out on the field to the pitcher's mound, where he tells Jamal about his family, specifically his brother's alcoholism and William's minor role that lead to his death. He also explains how the subsequent deaths of his parents soon after affected him and led to him becoming a recluse. As part of Jamal's tutelage, Forrester gives him some of his own private essays to rewrite (giving him the title and first paragraph), with the condition that Jamal is never to show any of this work to anyone. But when a prestigious writing contest requires some of Jamal's best work, he falls back on a particular piece of Forrester's that he re-wrote and submits it as his own, not realizing it was one of Forrester's few published works. Crawford immediately finds the parallels with Forrester's piece published in 1960 and brings Jamal up on plagiarism charges. Jamal must either admit Forrester's influence on his work or prove he had Forrester's permission to use his material, and refuses to do either, endangering his standing at the school.

Jamal tells Forrester what he has done and asks him to defend him, but Forrester is angry at Jamal for breaking his promise and refuses. Jamal then accuses Forrester of being scared and selfish for not helping him. Jamal is then told by the school that they value his contributions in basketball, and agree that they will drop the plagiarism charges if he wins them the state championship. Jamal comes to realize his intellectual gifts have less to do with remaining at the school than his ability on the basketball court, and misses two free throw shots at the end of the game, costing the team the championship. Immediately following the game, Jamal proceeds to the library and writes a letter to William. Later that night, Jamal's letter is found by his brother (Busta Rhymes) who personally delivers it to William and laments of Jamal's bright future about to be taken away.

When the awards ceremony for the literary contest are held, the contestants read their own work. Despite discouragement to attend, Jamal attends the ceremony, but is prevented from reading by Crawford's presence. After the student have finished, Forrester appears and announces himself, and proceeds to read an essay that draws a standing ovation from the students. As Crawford is praising the work, Forrester reveals the essay he had read was written by Jamal. Crawford adamantly states that this will not change any of the board's decisions, the board overrules him and drops the plagiarism charges. Forrester thanks Jamal for his friendship and tells him of his desire to return to his homeland of Scotland. Before departing, Forrester asks Jamal if he missed on purpose, to which Jamal only responds with a small smirk.

Several years later, Jamal is in his senior year and is a successful student with many enrollment offers from prestigious universities. Forrester's attorney (Matt Damon) schedules a meeting with Jamal, and reveals that Forrester has died of cancer, which Jamal learns that Forrester was terminally ill while they knew each other. In accordance with Forrester's will, Jamal is given a package, keys to his apartment, and a letter, in which Forrester thanks Jamal for helping him rekindle his desire to live. The package contains the manuscript for Forrester's second novel, called Sunset, for which Jamal is to write the foreword.


New York poet Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle provided several notebooks' worth of intense handwriting to portray Forrester's work in the film. Principal photography was shot entirely in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn (many Mailor Academy scenes were filmed at Regis High School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan), with some scenery and pick-up shots made in suburban Toronto, Ontario during post-production. Parts of the film were also shot in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.[2]

Matt Damon makes a brief cameo appearance near the end of the film.

Critical response

When Finding Forrester opened in December 2000, it received mostly positive reviews. It garnered two thumbs up from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. Roeper considered it one of the 10 best films of 2000. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 74% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on a sample of 120 reviews.[3]

Box office performance

The movie received limited release on December 22, 2000 in 200 theaters, grossing USD$701,207 in the opening weekend. It later received commercial release where it opened at #7 in 2,002 theaters, grossing $11,112,139 in the opening weekend. It went on to gross $51,804,714 domestically and $28,245,050 from the Foreign market for a worldwide total of $80,049,764.[1]


One of the tracks that appears in the movie and is not on the soundtrack is the one played during the Bike Ride that Forrester takes. The song is from Schulwerk by Carl Orff (more specifically the "Gassenhauer" track) it was arranged and produced by Bill Brown.[4]

Soundtrack Track Listing[5]

  1. "Recollections" (Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
  2. "Little Church" (Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Grossman, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, John McLaughlin)
  3. "Black Satin" (David Creamer, Miles Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, James Mtume, Badal Roy, Collin Walcott)
  4. "Under a Golden Sky" (Bill Frisell)
  5. "Happy House" (Ed Blackwell, Bobby Bradford, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, Dewey Redman)
  6. "Over the Rainbow (Photo Book)" (Bill Frisell)
  7. "Lonely Fire" [Excerpt]( Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Dave Holland, Bennie Maupin, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
  8. "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)
  9. "Vonetta" (Ron Carter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams)
  10. "Coffaro's Theme" (Curtis Fowlkes, Bill Frisell, Eyvind Kang, Ron Miles)
  11. "Foreigner in a Free Land" (Ornette Coleman, The London Symphony Orchestra, David Measham)
  12. "Beautiful E." (Joey Baron, Kermit Driscoll, Bill Frisell, Hank Roberts)
  13. "In a Silent Way [DJ Cam Remix]" (Miles Davis)


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Finding Forrester is a 2000 film, about a teenager, Jamal Wallace, played by Rob Brown, who is accepted into a prestigious private high school. He also befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester, played by Sean Connery.

Written by Mike Rich. Directed by Gus Van Sant.
In an ordinary place, he found the one person to make his life extraordinary.


William Forrester

  • [to Jamal] What you write in this apartment stays in this apartment. No exceptions.
  • The key to a woman's heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.
  • No thinking — that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is... to write, not to think!
  • My name is William Forrester. [pointing to a 'writers's wall of fame picture] I'm that one.
  • Bolt the door, if you're coming in.
  • Why is it that the worlds that we write for ourselves are always so much better than the worlds we write for others?

Jamal Wallace

  • I'll take poor assumptions for $800, Alex


Jamal: Women will sleep with you if you write a book?
Forrester: Women will sleep with you if you write a bad book.

Jamal: I ain't seen nothin' change.
Forrester: You 'ain't seen nothin'? What the hell kind of sentence is that?!

Jamal: Did you ever enter a writin’ contest?
Forrester: Yeah, once.
Jamal: Did you win?
Forrester: Well of course I won!
Jamal: You win like money or somethin’?
Forrester: No.
Jamal: Well, whadchu win?
Forrester: The Pulitzer.

Jamal: I came back to see, if you could help me out with my writing.
Forrester: Here's one: 5,000 words on why you'll stay the fuck out of my home!

Forrester: In some cultures it's good luck to be wearing something inside-out.
Jamal: And you believe that?
Forrester: No, but it's like praying: what do you risk?

Forrester: Paragraph three starts...with a conjunction, "and." You should never start a sentence with a conjunction.
Jamal: Sure you can.
Forrester: No, it's a firm rule.
Jamal: No, it was a firm rule. Sometimes using a conjunction at the start of a sentence makes it stand out. And that may be what the writer's trying to do.
Forrester: And what is the risk?
Jamal: Well the risk is doing it too much. It's a distraction. And it could give your piece a run-on feeling. But for the most part, the rule on using "and" or "but" at the start of a sentence is pretty shaky. Even though it's still taught by too many professors. Some of the best writers have ignored that rule for years, including you.

Jamal: Man, fuck you, William! You wanna know what the real bullshit is? How about you let me take it on this one cause you're too damn scared to walk out that door and do something for somebody else. You're too damn scared, man! That's the only damn reason.
Forrester: You don't know a goddamn thing about reasons; there are no reasons! Reasons why some of us live and why some of us don't! Well, fortunately for you you have decades to figure that out.
Jamal: Yeah, and what's the reason in having a file cabinet full of writing and keeping the shit locked so nobody can read it? What is that man? I'm through with this shit.

Forrester: I have a homeland that I have not seen for too long.
Jamal: Oh, you mean Ireland?
Forrester: Scotland, for God's sakes!
Jamal: I'm messing with you, man!

[While Jamal is typing on Forrester's typewriter]
Forrester: Punch the keys, for God's sake!
[Jamal begins to hit the keys harder]
Forrester: Yes... Yes! You're the man now, dawg!

It should be noted that this particular line has become a popular internet meme, leading to the creation of sites such as YTMND.

External links

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