Dramatizing the sad fact that Baltimore is a crime-ridden city where the U.S. trend toward safer streets has not taken hold, “Little Red” handles the rough side of the Chesapeake burg better than it does its creaky melodrama. Thesping is above the norm for such a tiny indie project, but helmer Clay Valenti — who expanded his original short of the same title to feature length — finds little that’s fresh in a story that retells the glumly familiar scenario of inner-city kids drawn to drugs and death. Earnest pic should find takers among modest fests looking for straight-up urban fare.
Highlighting notion that the mean streets are colorblind, boyhood pals Darrell (Brandon Price), who’s black, and Bohdie (Ben Farr), who’s white, drift apart as latter finds big bucks of the drug trade too alluring, while Darrell’s drawn to poetry and encouraged — in obvious, lecturing manner — by a teacher (Chuck Henry). Darrell has a crush on Angel (Char Clay), who ignores his warnings to stay away from the bad guys when her brother Regie (Jossan Robinson) is gunned down. Angel’s fall is much too predictable and not helped by pic’s awkward pacing.