Directed by Gus Van Sant, starring Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F Murray Abraham and Anna Paquin.
A gifted young man (Brown) seeks guidance from an older misfit (Connery), a bitter teacher (Abraham) tries to restrict his growth, a bored young woman (Paquin) finds a kindred spirit. If the plot sounds familiar it's because you've already seen 'Finding Forrester' – the version you saw was Van Sant's 1997 film 'Good Will Hunting'.
Brown is Jamal, a Bronx teenager who has been offered a scholarship to a prestigious private school. He's feted for his basketball skills but his real interest lies in literature, reading novels and writing his own in between sessions on the asphalt. In a run down building next to the basketball court lives Connery's character William, a recluse who sees the world through a pair of binoculars and a bottle of Scotch. When a teenage prank to sneak into William's apartment goes pear shaped, Jamal gets more than he bargained for, uncovering both a literary secret and a man who can help him make sense of his own talents.
Once you get over the shock that you're watching 'Good Will Hunting' with basketball, there's much to admire about 'Finding Forrester' – from the enchanting chemistry between Connery and Brown to the strong supporting performances from Abraham (the teacher) and Paquin (the young woman). And while its themes of family and the individual shaking off the constraints of the group have been well covered in Van Sant's canon, they're handled with such beauty and wit that you shouldn't find cause to grumble. With a slow-burning plot, most of the action takes place within William's apartment as both old man and teenager get over the barriers of age and race - the relationship between the two perfectly timed, never going too deep too quickly and never descending into cringy sentimentality. Connery could do his turn as the taciturn hermit without a script, but this is one of his best performances since 'The Untouchables'. Brown meanwhile, is a revelation, totally credible as the thoughtful young man and carrying the entire film for the first half hour.
It's very easy to be cynical about Van Sant's movie and motive (especially after the mauling he received for his remake of 'Pyscho'), but few mainstream films can generate this much warmth. 'Finding Forrester' is Gus Van Sant treading water in Hollywood, but he's making a beautiful pattern.