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Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a 12-year-old drug dealer who finds himself trapped in a web of poverty, corruption and racial tension in Brooklyn, New York. When his drug-addict sister Nichole (N'Bushe Wright) starts sleeping with local drug lord Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito), Fresh calls upon the skills he learned playing chess with his alcoholic father and speed-chess champion Sam (Samuel L. Jackson) and devises a complex strategy that will free both himself and his sister. Written by
Jesus Children of America
Written by Stevie Wonder
Published by Black Bull Music/Jobete Music Co.
Performed by Johnny Gill
Produced by Chuckii Booker for Big Dog Productions
Courtesy of Motown Records See more »
This film will completely astound you. Unspoiled by the gangsta rap, and glamorisation of street culture that normally pervades a 'black' film, it tells the story of the 12-year old, chess-playing, drug-dealing streetwise genius, Fresh.
Living in poverty with 11 others in his aunt's house, and using his wits to survive, he slowly gets trapped deeper and deeper in the world of drugs, a world in which all his loyalties are challenged.
Most 'hood films either satirise black culture completely with their loud, cool attitudes, or on the other become touchy-feely anti-drugs schmaltz. This is the ONLY film I have seen to tread the thin line between them and come away looking not only credible, but superbly enjoyable.
Both Giancarlo Esposito (the smooth talking drugs dealer) and Samuel L. Jackson (the alcoholic chess-master tramp) give strong, realistic performances in challenging roles. The other characters (like N'Bushe Wright's portrayal of Fresh's sister) are also incredibly well played, and every single one of them is believable.
However, the main credit HAS to go to Sean Nelson. I have never seen such a dignified performance, and i can honestly say that I was AMAZED at how involving the film was. You could empathise with him every step of the way. He was never overly emotional, yet never came across as being arrogant and calculating. He plays the 'streetwise genius' role to perfection, again, remaining completely credible.
The script was also fantastic. Full marks to Boaz Yakin for such an accurate picture of life in the ghetto. This is not a film for those who want the cheap formulaic thrills of violence, sex and guns that are so prevalent today. There are no special effects, no overly violent scenes. Instead, the movie relies on superb acting and a relentless drive for gritty realism.
I cannot recommend this film enough to anyone who appreciates drama - it will really open your eyes.
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