“Story Ave”


Rotten Tomatoes (3.5/5), Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (3.5/5)

For many at-risk youth, there comes a turning point where they can head off in one direction or another, each with vastly different long-term outcomes. For South Bronx graffiti artist Kadir Grayson (Asante Blackk) – a gifted illustrator with real talent who’s desperately struggling to find himself and reconcile his grief for the loss of his younger brother – that comes when he falls in with the wrong crowd and fails at proving himself in an unsuccessful attempt at holding up a aging but streetwise transit worker, Luis Torres (Luis Guzmán). Instead of filing charges against the confused young man, Luis takes Kadir under his wing to help him straighten out his life before it’s too late. It’s an uplifting and heartwarming tale, albeit somewhat clichéd and predictable at times, especially when it comes to the overlong wait for certain all-too-entirely expected revelations to surface. Nevertheless, director Aristotle Torres’s debut feature provides viewers with more than its share of time-honored wisdom and hope for those who could easily end up following a different and more destructive course. The fine performances of Blackk and Guzmán convincingly sell the material, which is presented with compelling cinematography and film editing, though the sound quality can stand some improvement, particularly in the opening half-hour, when the dialogue becomes almost unintelligible at times. Still, there’s much to be said for the insights served up in this intergenerational coming of age drama, proving that there’s always a possibility to set things right, even when they seem to be headed in an irretrievable downward spiral. And that’s a “story” that’s more than just a street name.