Story of a promising high school basketball star and his relationships with two brothers, one a drug dealer and the other a former basketball star fallen on hard times and now employed as a security guard.
Ex-con attempting to go straight runs accross serious problems. His girlfriend gets arrested for dealing crack to an undercover police officer. In a desperate attempt to get the charges ... See full summary »
William James Stiggers Jr.,
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
Boaz Yakin, the enormously talented writer/director of "Fresh" has done the impossible, a real movie about real things that offers a sharp contrast with other films about the subject we have seen before. Mr. Yakin working with what appears to be a cast of non professional actors, mainly, presents a gripping tale of life in the ghetto that will probably be a classic in this genre.
If you haven't seen the film, please stop reading now.
Fresh is the young boy at the center of the action. We follow him as he runs illegal drugs for the dealers of his area. Fresh comes from a broken home where the mother is not around and the father is absent from the picture. His kind aunt Frances has gathered about a dozen youngsters in the home she shares with her mother, who is the grandmother of all of them. In spite of the poor surroundings, this is a decent home.
Fresh probably learned quickly in his young life he must be a step ahead of the drug dealers and their henchmen in order to survive in that world. It's a heavy trip for a young child to deal with in his own life and still have a head in his shoulders. What Fresh does, of course, is illegal, but this is a determined young man that is looking for a better future in spite of what he sees around him.
Fresh loves to play chess. We watch him win games in Washington Square Park over more skilled players. Sam, his absent father, is a master of the game. Sam teaches his son the game and how to think the way the champions do. Sam is a highly intelligent man who has had the misfortune of falling victim to the bottle. His son, admires him but bears a resentment against him for abandoning him and Nicole, his sister. One thing is sure, Sam always wins when he plays Fresh. Only after all the big events at the end of the film, Fresh beats the old man up. In doing so, we see tears coming out of him because maybe then, Fresh realizes the enormity of the events he's been involved in, and the fact that his father, in yelling at him, perhaps shows the boy how much he cares for him.
There is a scene in the film involving pit bull fighting that will make, even the coolest viewer cringe. Fresh's dog wins a match, but it is a menace that has to be put to sleep. The scene where Fresh hangs the dog by his collar is one of the most horrible things we watch in the movie. Fresh is venting his frustration at a dog he clearly loved, but now he cannot keep.
The acting by all the principals is first rate. The only problem is that sometimes some of what he hear in the dialog is incomprehensible because of the use of street slang most of the viewers don't know. Sean Nelson makes a perfect Fresh. He is one of the most natural actors we have seen in a while. The lack of formal training works out as we watch a portrayal that is devoid of any mannerisms, or other cute poses that someone with more experience would have done with this role.
Samuel L. Jackson makes another incredible appearance as Fresh's father Sam. Mr. Jackson's take on this man is an excellent example why he is on of the best actors working in films today. Giancarlo Esposito as Esteban, the nasty drug dealer, adds another great role to his brilliant film career.
Adam Holender, the cinematographer, has given the film the right look. The dreamy scenes where Fresh is seen looking toward Manhattan at different times of the day, is pure poetry. This is an important movie dealing with an important subject. Thanks to Mr. Yakin, we go into that world that, for some of us, might as well be in another continent, but never right here in another part of town!
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