A retread for director Gus Van Sant of Good Will Hunting. Sean Connery is a crotchety, reclusive writer who mentors a gifted teen from the Bronx
It no longer seems surprising that Gus Van Sant is a director happy to work on such sentimental fodder as Finding Forrester. Long gone are the days when he made edgy fare like Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho.
Not unlike his much-despised shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, Finding Forrester feels like a bad retread of Van Sant’s earlier piece of schmaltz Good Will Hunting. But at least that was good schmaltz. In this overlong film, interest in the characters and their objectives ebbs away long before the final credits roll.
Connery, as Forrester, the one-time scribe who cracked the Great American Novel only to put down his pen permanently, is admittedly terrific, but even he cannot carry this cumbersome pot-boiler. Neither can newcomer Brown, who plays Forrester’s eager basketball-playing pupil, who has been removed from his local school to attend a private establishment on a scholarship. Despite acquitting himself well Brown is swallowed up, caught between Connery’s magnetism and Van Sant’s cornball style.
Mike Rich’s script does its best to employ all manner of can’t-miss story elements but fails to capitalise on any of them. Most notable is Forrester’s final speech, delivered to a packed school auditorium in defence of his prodigy, who has been accused of cheating in a writing contest. Van Sant and Rich dip in and out of Forrester’s oration, never delivering it in full; it’s a trick that symbolises this rather hollow effort.
Matt Damon, star of Gus Van Sant’s earlier (and rather similar) film Good Will Hunting makes a cameo appearance as Forrester’s lawyer.
Write the first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head. The key to writing is to write, not think. – Forrester (Sean Connery)

Sean Connery as William Forrester
Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace
F. Murray Abraham as Prof. Robert Crawford
Anna Paquin as Claire Spence
Busta Rhymes as Terrell Wallace
April Grace as Ms. Joyce
Michael Pitt as John Coleridge
Michael Nouri as Dr. Spence
Matt Damon as Steven Sanderson
Richard Easton as Prof. Matthews
Glenn Fitzgerald as Massie, Forrester’s Delivery Man
Lil’ Zane as Damon
Gus Van Sant as Library Assistant (uncredited)
Jim Titus as Student
Director: Gus Van Sant
Producers: Laurence Mark, Sean Connery, Rhonda Tollefson
Writer: Mike Rich
Photographer: Harris Savides
Composer: Bill Frisell
USA | 136 minutes | 2000