Finding Forrester: 18 years on, the Gus Van Sant film continues to inspire and resonate

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As someone who deals with words for a living, I am drawn to films and books that specifically tackle the subject of writing. There have been many films on the aforementioned topic, but there is one that I distinctly remember. It’s the one movie that I often return to when I feel uninspired — Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester.

Writing appears to be a selfish and lonely job. You sit at your desk, close off yourself from the rest of the world and put pen to paper as if your very life depends on it. No time for socialising because you are either busy waiting for the muse to gently nudge you in the right direction or you are just typing away meaningless crap which you cannot make any sense of. Gus Van Sant’s (of Good Will Hunting and Milk fame) 2000 film discusses all of the above and more in the most engaging fashion.

“Why is it that the words that we write for ourselves are much better than the words we write for others?” is one of the first lessons that Hollywood legend Sean Connery’s character William Forrester gives to Rob Brown’s Jamal Wallace in the film. And it’s one advice that each one of us who love, write and swallow letters would do well to remember. Do not please anyone, write with honesty and the rest will follow. The entire movie is bursting with such nuggets of wisdom. While this point may well be one of the primary draws of watching Finding Forrester, it’s not the only one.

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