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Time Out says
This eschews the clichés of gangsta rap to find a new slant on African-American experience. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Ray Joshua (Williams) is picked up for drug dealing and held in a Washington, DC, penitentiary. There, in a startling scene just on the right side of absurd, he disarms the prison yard muscle with a burst of impromptu verse. Paroled into the eager care of the prison writing tutor (Sohn), Ray is introduced to a new cosmopolitan society where his gifts could flourish, given half a chance. But in the real world, that court date looms. Shot on actual locations in just nine days by Levin, a former documentarist, and improvised within a detailed scene-by-scene outline, this is a perplexing mix of truth and falsity, spontaneity and cliché. Inspired by the slam poetry scene in which Williams has found some fame (a slam is a competitive reading akin to a jazz cutting contest), at its best the movie achieves some of the piercing subjective insight of live performance. Williams is a lucid and passionate witness. Yet Ray is too good to be true, the softest drug pusher in town, and Levin can't resist the lure of shimmering sunsets and the like.