Thesp Ty Hodges is best known for appearances on the Disney Channel, but his promising writing-directing debut won’t be playing there anytime soon. Uneven but generally effective drama has his teenage protag at a crossroads between street life and the straight-and-narrow. A cautionary tale of sorts that manages to avoid preachiness, pic’s appeal to youth auds will be limited by a likely R-rating, with DVD racks a more certain outlet.
Miles (Hodges) is an 18-year-old Los Angeleno with an unhappy past and uncertain future. His mother has lost home and job to a crack addiction; his father’s absentee. Grasping at acceptance, he’s pulled into the hard-partying multiracial crew presided over by older Keisha (Tasha Smith), even consenting reluctantly to join her stable of young prostitutes. But he drops out of that scene when befriended by somewhat ditzy, garrulous college student Natasha (Meagan Good), a born-again with her own painful secret. Cutting back and forth between the two milieus (with Hodges also playing Miles’ profanity-spewing alter ego “Diablo”), the screenplay has some sketchy aspects. But Hodges evinces a sure hand with actors and the tale’s grittier side.