It's been high time that I've put thoughts of Fresh to rest being this was the film that first set my horizons to dabbling in constructing a solid base of opinions in written form, see also: review. Far from the decadent projects of faux paus hood dramas, Fresh presents the first of its kind that I've seen, an intellectual pass at exhibiting impoverished communities without making me want to fumigate the entirety of the seedy alleys littered with degenerates and addicts. Essentially a coming-of-age urban fable with a 12 year old drug runner, name of Fresh, the film decides to center itself a fancy twist when he begins to use the game of chess and his estranged father's tactics to get himself and his sister out of the "game" before it's too late. Setting up a chessboard in his room, Fresh manipulates each piece in a manner catering to his opponents needs. As whimsical father-figure Samuel L. Jackson puts it, "I play my opponent. If he likes to attack, I force him to defend himself. If he's a cautious man, I draw him into dangerous waters." These words from this golden deus ex machina provides us with an exhilarating set-up for what might be one of the greatest films ever told through a black child's eyes, with the exception of George Washington.
As an added bonus, Samuel L. Jackson turns perhaps his best performance as his alcoholic speed-chess father whom Fresh can drop the moniker and manifest the semblance of a human being. Not just for whimsical anecdotes or father/son malleability, Fresh comes to this park to step his game up to better suit his needs. In what eventually begins to unravel, Fresh takes charge as a studious film featuring rather unsavory characters and takes the time to escape the bind of class-B "yungbloodz" and their banal disillusionment of cinema. Fresh isn't a perfect film but rather a perfect character. A child of rotting roots that I feel great sympathy for. You may be able to disregard the film but you most certainly cannot shun the character. As Michael sheds mortal coil by releasing Roscoe of his tainted innocence, Fresh becomes somewhat with purpose to better his life and stray back on course. To cap off a perfectly-competent debut picture from Boaz Yakin, Fresh ends on such a note of breakdown that it's near impossible for me to not get caught up in the flood of emotion emanating from Sean Nelson in his only credible role. This is the stuff that Urban films should be made of. There is no glorification of hood dreams to be found in Fresh, only a wake up call to black youth stating that it's time to grow up.