Unknown Soldier

Ferenc Toth's directorial debut examines the fate of Ellison (Carl Louis), an amiable but unambitious, unskilled, and unemployed young African-American in Harlem who becomes homeless after his father's sudden death. He's forced to seek shelter from a succession of less and less enthusiastic well-wishers, including his college-bound girlfriend, whose mother has made it her life's work to keep her daughter from getting pregnant. At its best the film is sharply observed, as in the scenes involving the girlfriend and her mother and in the wry detailing of the criminal misadventure that marks the last stage of Ellison's decline. But too often Toth's tone of deadpan pity comes off as uncertain and strained. 78 min.

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