This is an urban coming of age tale by director Ferenc Toth (who previously produced the critically acclaimed film “Manito”). Ellison is an 18-year-old young man, living in Harlem with his hard-working father. He’s got a girlfriend & a job at a hardware store. Life is a bit of a struggle, but for the most part, he’s leading a pretty carefree life. It all comes crashing down on him the day he finds his father dead. He loses his closest relative, his mentor & guardian and ultimately his innocence.
Ellison must vacate the family’s apartment, and crash at a series of friend’s places. He then hooks up with a friend, Zee, who is a questionable character, but the “gangsta” lifestyle is somewhat seductive, and a job as a driver beats working at the hardware store. To complicate matters, Ellison’s girlfriend Tande, had put her plans for going away to college on hold to help him out, be when she finds out about his job with Zee, she leaves for college, without saying goodbye. He’s devastated, and after a drug deal gone awry, decides to explore other options for himself, because he knows that lifestyle is not for him. He tries enlisting in the Army, but gets disqualified due to his asthma.
This film is unique in that it never degenerates into a heavy, stereotypical urban story. Although Ellison is forced to deal with some intense circumstances, there’s always a sense of pride & hope in his character, as he tries to rise above things. The last scenes are particularly poignant, as we see Ellison forlornly hanging out in a bank lobby, where he’s kicked out. He notices a woman, who had been in the bank, about to go down the subway stairs with a baby in a stroller. Forgetting his own desperate situation, he offers to help her down the stairs, and then he walks off into the New York afternoon. It’s unclear what Ellison’s future will be, but despite it all, he’s a survivor, and has remained true to his values.