We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Since their parents died in a car crash, Rashad and Anton have been living with their Uncle George, or maybe he's been living with them, since it was their parents' house. Rashad is 17, a high school senior, working part time to save money for his kid brother "to make it out of here" -- out of their poor black neighborhood in Atlanta. Anton, known as "Ant," sees a faster route, standing on a corner selling drugs for a local dealer.
But no, "ATL" isn't a drug movie, and it doesn't send its characters on a harrowing journey into danger. It's a film about growing up and working, about falling in love, about planning for your future, and about the importance of friends. For Rashad (Tip Harris), the best day of the week is Sunday, because that's when he and three friends head for the Cascade, a roller rink where they show off with intricately choreographed moves on the floor.
Rashad's friends are Esquire (Jackie Long), Teddy (Jason Weaver) and Brooklyn (Albert Daniels). They're solid and will last for a lifetime. Esquire, who has top grades, is a waiter at a country club, where he meets the black millionaire John Garnett (Keith David). He needs a letter of recommendation to go with his Ivy League scholarship application. Garnett is happy to give him one, and to invite the smart, polite kid to his mansion on the other side of town. And that's when ...
But let's back up to New-New (Lauren London). Rashad meets her at the Cascade, they like each other, they start spending time together, and it looks like love. But there is something she doesn't tell him -- although she almost does, before he interrupts her. I'm not going to reveal her secret, except to say that it threatens to sink their romance and their trust in each other. And for a while it looks like it may destroy Rashad's friendship with Esquire.