Keep your eyes on the magician's hands. She'll attempt to distract you with compliments and silly quips, but her most effective feint will be the story she tells as she shuffles the cards. Anyway, that's one way it could go. In J.D. Dillard's coming-of-age (and coming-of-magic) tale, Sleight -- about a young street magician who turns to dealing drugs to care for his little sis -- the director builds to one big, beautiful revelation. But the story he tells in the lead-up doesn't distract so much as it politely asks you to stand up so that it can place the trick card under your ass.
Jacob Latimore is Bo Wolfe, a smart kid in Los Angeles who turned down a college scholarship to hustle party drugs at clubs. Mom has just died, so Bo has to make fast cash to cover rent for him and his sister, Tina (Storm Reid). During the day, Bo earns by performing card and levitation tricks on the street. And he literally has something up his sleeve: an electromagnetic device implanted in his shoulder.
There's real joy in the moments of street magic, but Dillard focuses on monotonous good-kid-gets-in-too-deep-with-bad-guys elements. Dulé Hill plays a seemingly sophisticated drug pusher called Angelo: Bo's boss. We know from the get-go that Bo will get too involved with violence and have to find a way to extract himself from the situation -- this is a story we've seen before. What we haven't seen -- even after Sleight ends -- is the story of how a teenage science whiz gets so obsessed with magic that he burrows copper wires into his own goddamned arm.