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Interestingly, William Forrester only wrote one infamous novel; he lives alone and rarely ventures out. To the kids in his Bronx neighborhood, he is a legend and fodder for many wild stories. When Jamal, an African-American scholarship student, sneaks into Forrester's apartment on a dare, and leaves his backpack behind as telltale evidence, Forrester discovers the student's talent for writing.
After rewriting the stories in Jamal's backpack, Forrester returns the bag - and its contents. Naturally, Jamal returns to talk to Forrester.
Not that it's easy - Forrester isn't the talkative sort, and he is reluctant to give Jamal the benefit of his experience. Slowly, however, they build a relationship, as Forrester helps Jamal to improve his writing.
Meanwhile, Jamal's prejudiced private school professor gives him a hard time, and his school experience is troubled. However, Forrester continues to encourage him.
Finding Forrester was an original, well-written film - at least until the typical Hollywood ending wrapped things up perfectly. In a way there was too much character development; everything progressed so predictably, that it was blatantly obvious what was going to happen next.
Screenwriters should remember that often the characters that learn the least from their experiences and don't change for the better have the most impact on the story. The plot was unbalanced in that there were too many improvements and too few character mistakes. Yes, the characters do face some opposition, but it seems too easily conquered.
The sole bad character is Jamal's teacher; he gets his and everyone else gets what they want. Although it's "tied up nicely" at the end, both Jamal and Forrester seem to gain more from their relationship than the script would suggest - or explain.
However, the acting was terrific, and the script's flaws are forgivable. Finding Forrester accomplishes more than most so-called dramas. I recommend it as a well-plotted film with great acting.