Welcome to Pine Hill

80 minutes 2013

In writer-director-editor Keith Miller's relaxed debut feature (2012), a quiet former drug dealer takes stock of his life when he's diagnosed with a rare terminal illness. Though the hero is black and comes from an impoverished background, this never feels like a movie about black poverty; Miller and his cast are so sensitive to the characters' quirks (and to the nature of neighborhood communities) that the movie ends up feeling more like a personal encounter. Despite the heavy subject matter, this can be surprisingly, even disarmingly optimistic. The characters regularly engage in confessional bull sessions with strangers they meet on the street, suggesting that all people are capable of treating others with respect.

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