Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, CompuServe Film d-based on Rotten Tomatoes
Director: JD Dillard
Written by: JD Dillard, Alex Theurer
Cast: Jacob Latimore, Dule Hill Seychelle Gabriel, Storm Reid, Sasheer Zamata, Cameron Esposito
Screened at: Review 1, NYC, 3/23/17
Opens: April 28, 2017
Some say that it takes a woman to redeem a man, and those men who are not redeemed from their evil ways could meet a violent end. Both themes are on the mind of JD Dillard, who co-wrote and directs “Sleight” and whose background includes a handful of shorts and an obscure full-length movie “Judy Goose” (which has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or the IMDB). “Sleight” may be considered slight by some but given the treatment of its subject, the indie could cross over from arthouse fare into a commercial break. The story is filled with good performances and with fine chemistry between its two stars, Jacob Latimore as Bo and Seychelle Gabriel as his girlfriend Holly.
Having lost both of his parents, Bo must look after his kid sister Tina (Storm Reid). The card tricks he performs on the street may fulfill him artistically, given the wide-eyed enjoyment by viewers, but they can do little to keep a roof over the heads of the small family. He increases his income by night, picking up drugs from Angelo (Dulé Hill) and returning a percentage to the kingpin, but when fairly accused of diluting product to increase his profits, Bo must raise a huge sum of money within a week or get himself in more trouble than the beating he receives.
If you ever see a dude perform card tricks on the stage or in the street and make metal coins and chairs move around and levitate (no strings used), you’ll find out how it’s done by seeing this movie. A reviewer would not be fair in revealing the gimmick, but it involves Bo’s self-inflicted wound on his shoulder that allows him to appear to have powers known only to the prestidigitation craft. Though nobody else in town can compete with him as a magician, he finds out what happens when someone tries to horn in on Angelo’s racket, and having a hand sliced off serves as quite a warning to folks selling coke in the wrong neighborhood.
Given the power of love, namely in the hands of Holly whom he meets for a lunch date, discovers that she needs to leave her family because of abuse, and allows her figure out ways of releasing him from his debt. Ultimately, though, Bo uses the same magic that allows him to draw crowds when he deals with Angelo and his touch henchmen
The twenty-year-old Latimore, who had a supporting role in David Frankel’s “Collateral Beauty,” is considered by some journals to be one of the great emerging stars of the Sundance Festival. He is in virtually every frame and commands audience attention with both his vulnerability and his assertiveness against the drug kingpin. We look forward to his next appearance in William H. Macy’s “Krystal,” about a man who develops a crush on a stripper and joins her in an Alcoholics Anonymous.
Rated R. 90 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
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