PAID IN FULL
US, 2002, 97 minutes, Colour.
Wood Harris, Mekhi Pfifer, Kevin Carroll, Esai Morales, Chi Mc Bride, Regina Hall.
Directed by Charles Stone III.
Paid in Full is an African- American story, designed for the African- American audience at the beginning of the 21st century, especially in New York City. It is the kind of story that has been repeated in many such films, the focus on inner-city New York, the harsh neighbourhoods, the combination of the ordinary life of citizens with the story of drug dealing and its effects.
The focus of the story is a young man called Ace, played by Wood Harris. He lives something of the simple life, working in a dry-cleaning shop, with the manager being something of a mentor. He has a number of friends his own age, especially Mitch, who deals drugs and spends some time in prison. Surprisingly, when Ace finds drugs in pants at the dry cleaners, he makes contact with a local Hispanic drug Lord, Lulu (Esai Morales). Before long, Ace exhibits great shrewdness and business dealing, and becomes something of a celebrity in the neighbourhood. While he still keep in contact with his friends, it is inevitable that clashes will erupt, that there will be violence, that there will be deaths.
There is a great deal of background story as well, depicting the lives of people in the neighbourhood, some ordinary aspects, relationships, but always a feeling of tension, and the all pervasive influence of the drug dealers and the consequences of drug dealing.
Wood Harris gives an interesting performance as Ace.