As a polemical fable on the links of racism and class, “Season of Youth” speaks best to the young, but as drama, pic is hopelessly mired in contrivances that make a hash of important issues. What begins as a simple tale of a young black student on scholarship (Ernest Waddell) trying to fit into a predominantly white Gotham prep school boils down to a ludicrous face-off with the school’s supremely bratty and racist upperclassman (Jonathan Bennett). Tyro writer-director Eric Perlmutter confidently handles his largely young cast, but has not figured out the details of making pic’s key confrontation something more than trumped-up business. After some fest dates, pic will have a hard time passing the market grade.
Encouraged by his loving mom (Pamela Isaacs) and driven by memories of his fallen cop-father (“Law and Order’s” Jesse L. Martin), Flint treks from his Bronx ghetto by train to prep school, catching the eye of cute and smart Matty (Alexis Dziena) en route. Problems begin to boil when Matty’s snotty brother, Taylor, eyes the pair, and subjects Flint to some “games” and “quizzes” at the train station that defy credibility.