Who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own?
Who will cry for the little boy? He cried himself to sleep.
Who will cry for the little boy? He never had for keeps.
Who will cry for the little boy? He walked the burning sand.
Who will cry for the little boy? The boy inside the man.
Who will cry for the little boy? Who knows well hurt and pain.
Who will cry for the little boy? He died and died again.
Who will cry for the little boy? A good boy he tried to be.
Who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me?"
Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher is a 2002 drama based on U.S. Navy officer Antwone Fisher's memoir Finding Fish, about his experiences coming to terms with his abusive childhood.
Antwone (Derek Luke) is a violent, troubled naval cadet who begins sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington). During the sessions, Antwone narrates details of his childhood experiences, which included beatings, sexual abuse and seeing his best friend shot before his eyes. The two men become friends and help each other deal with their own relationship conflicts.
This film contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Mrs. Tate, Antwone's foster mother, beat him and his foster brothers regularly while they were growing up, and also threatened to burn Antwone with fire and once stole money from him that he'd earned running errands for neighbors. Much later, Antwone gets to take her to task for it.
- Big Eater: "I could eat."
- Blatant Lies: Mrs. Tate and her sister greet Antwone with feigned warmth and politeness when he confronts them as an adult. This lasts only until Antwone points out he remembers all of their horrific abuse.
- Calling the Old Man Out: As explained above, Antwone pulls this on Mrs. Tate for her horrific treatment of him in childhood.Antwone: It don't matter what you tried to do, you couldn't destroy me! I'm still standing! I'm still strong! And I always will be.
- Character Development: Antwone gets several much-needed doses of this throughout the movie, from his sessions with Davenport and his interactions with fellow naval officer Cheryl. At the end of the movie, Davenport acknowledges his own development as a soldier and as a man due to his time spent with Antwone.
- Forgiveness: A major theme of the movie. It's discussed between Antwone and Davenport.Davenport: "Regard without ill-will despite an offense." That's Webster's definition of forgiveness.Antwone: Why do I have to forgive?Davenport: So you can get on with your life.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Antwone Fisher definitely, both in real-life and his fictional counterpart. His foster siblings too.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When she wasn't just abusing him, Mrs. Tate's treatment of Antwone any time he actually did something wrong counts as this.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Thankfully and refreshingly averted. Mrs. Tate's sister sexually abused Antwone as a child, and it's treated as the horrific crime that it is.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Downplayed. Antwone's journey throughout the movie as an adult included finding out that his birth father is dead and his repulsive foster mother and aunt have no remorse for the horrific abuse they inflicted on him. Thankfully, by the end of the film, Antwone gets in touch with members of his biological family who treat him lovingly and comfort him over all he's been through, he has a girlfriend and new friends, including Davenport.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: For roughly the first half of the movie, Antwone has serious anger management issues. His sessions with Davenport to deal with this begin as part of his punishment for starting a fight with another sailor who delivered a joke that Antwone interpreted as a racial slur.
- Karma Houdini: Downplayed. While Antwone gives a very well-deserved calling out to Mrs. Tate and her sister for their horrific and deplorable treatment of him, they receive no legal punishment for physically and sexually abusing Antwone and his siblings.
- Manly Tears: Antwone sheds a few while reading the "Who Will Cry For the Little Boy?" poem to Davenport at the Thanksgiving dinner.Davenport: (at the end of the poem) Who will cry for the little boy, Antwone?Antwone: I will. I always do.
- N-Word Privileges: Mrs. Tate thinks she has these with Antwone and his foster brothers, but even if she did, her deplorable treatment of them should disqualify her.
- Parental Abandonment: Antwone's father died before he was born, and his mother, who gave birth to him while in prison, gave him up to the foster-care system and never came to reclaim him.
- Their First Time: Antwone and his love interest Cheryl get intimate late into the movie, while searching for his biological relatives.
- Workaholic: Davenport, by his own admission. It was his way of coping with the fact that his relationship with his wife was strained by their inability to have children.