Reviewer Wayne Malin got the plot a little wrong -- A teenager falls from a roof in an accident, not a murder, and as I recall (it's been a long time since I saw this film too), it's not clear at the end of the movie if his injuries are fatal. But I think he got most everything else right. Both Wayne and I may be hazy on plot details, but nevertheless we're in agreement that the emotional impact of the piece is unforgettable.
It may seem a cheap cliché' to praise a movie's "gritty realism," but I can't think of a better term for what this beautiful little film has in spades. The teenagers (and adults) in it are utterly, completely believable as they deal with poverty, racial tensions, honesty, loyalty, friendship, running away versus facing life's responsibilities. Also in the mix are some less-ennobling aspects of being human, like pointless, testosterone-fueled schoolyard one-upsmanship and plain teenaged stupidity.
This is a sadly-overlooked gem of a movie, and I hope it finds its way to DVD distribution some day.
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