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The Price Review

The Price is a 2017 drama about a young Nigerian-American financier who struggles with love, family, and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path.

Movies have long made the life of a stockbroker or financial guru in the big city that of big money, big risks, and big gains, with a few consequences that naturally lead to chaos. It’s an age-old formula that is almost as set in stone as a cowboy and his horse. So it is a little surprising to see Anthony Onah‘s latest, The Price, a story that paints a different picture of a young man’s dreams of making it big while dealing with some very real personal problems, steering clear of the larger trappings of the genre, keeping this a simple, perhaps a little on the nose, tale of culture and family.

Seyi Ogunde (Aml Ameen) is a Nigerian-American, working in a successful New York trading firm, most likely the only black man in the company, where his white colleagues seem to work less but get more. He’s very good at his job though, but is bogged down by a family living in Hackensack, his father Akin (Souleymane Sy Savane), recovering from a stroke and wants to return to his homeland. Seyi’s mother Ife (Michael Hyatt), pesters Seyi incessantly to spend more time at home and take care of his father, even though Seyi believes him nothing but a disappointment, a past that Seyi helps to keep secret. What’s more, his younger sister Funmi (Hope Olaide Wilson) is also in his face, though she knows nothing about what her father once was. All of this keeps him spinning as he tries to keep balance with the mounting pressures, hitting the nightspots to vent while sinking further into his troubling Adderall habit.

Throughout all this, Seyi is aware of the subtle impact he has on many around him, mostly strangers, with looks on the subway, or how at night, people kind of find ways to bypass walking near him. This is life in the city, and it is only one more layer on his shoulders. So when he meets a medical student named Liz (Lucy Griffiths), a white girl with a long distance boyfriend, he finds himself taken by her candid and honest conversations with him. The two begin dating, even as she remains unsure of what to do, and it offers Seyi a much-needed escape. Like many movies where this becomes the case, Seyi is reluctant to reveal too much, embarrassed by who is outside the city. As he works deals at his job, he edges closer to a boiling point.

This is Onah’s feature length debut, working from his own script, and easily where he succeeds most is avoiding the temptation to give this too much flare, keeping this about the characters. While it runs along deep ruts, well worn from many before it, it stays afloat with its terrific performances. Ameen, who many might recall from his role in The Maze Runner, never plays the victim, remaining mostly low-key, but affecting as he spirals. It’s good work. Griffiths is also strong, as is Hyatt, who has been one of the most consistent supporting actresses in the business. 

The Price isn’t really about making too many larger observations, even as a few sharp moments seem to hint that it might, sticking to what has worked before. That’s not to say it fails because of this, for it has plenty good going for it, it’s small budget and very compressed view keeping this on message throughout. A solid recommendation.

The Price Review

Movie description: The Price is a 2017 drama about a young Nigerian-American financier who struggles with love, family, and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path.

Director(s): Anthony Onah

Actor(s): Lucy Griffiths, Peter Vack, Aml Ameen

Genre: Drama

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