Denzel Washington makes his directorial debut in Antwone Fisher and also plays a navy psychiatrist who becomes emotionally involved in the struggles of a young patient. Antwone (Derek Luke) lands in Dr. Davenport's office because he can't stop getting into fights. Eventually Davenport gets the complete story--the boy never knew his parents (an incarcerated mother, a murdered dad); he was raised by a minister's wife, who beat him, and her daughter, who sexually abused him; he saw his best friend plugged in a robbery. Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at his rear end, as Thelma Ritter quips about Anne Baxter's tale of woe in All About Eve.

Davenport's love and support make the young man whole again, of course. He locates his birth mother and is welcomed into the bosom of his father's big family. He consummates his first romance, with a navy girl (Joy Bryant). And because true love is reciprocal, his affection loosens up Davenport, who has been alienated from his wife (Salli Richardson) ever since they learned they couldn't have kids, and cures their marital problems.

The ace up the picture's sleeve is that it was written by the actual Antwone Fisher. So the movie has it both ways: it's genuine stuff (the tale of a true-life lost child who found his way) and it's an actualized American dream (he found his way to a Hollywood contract).