Synthesizing fact and fiction, Snow on tha Bluff details the day-to-day misadventures of fast-talking dope-slinger Curtis Snow, a ne'er-do-well who opens Damon Russell's docudrama by stealing a camcorder from college kids and proceeding to record his life in Atlanta's notorious the Bluff neighborhood. From jarring videotape edits to unprocessed audio, Russell's film has a convincingly rugged home-movie quality and a narrative to match, as Snow parties and provides for his baby mama and young son by selling drugs and robbing competitors at gunpoint. Frequently scored to hip-hop heard through car speakers, Bluff's portrait of street life has a grungy off-the-cuff realism that's only compromised by some obviously staged incidents, which include the aforementioned stickups and moments in which friends make direct mention of the omnipresent camera. Profane and unrepentant, Snow cuts cocaine with his son by his side while, positing criminality as a genetic trait, reminiscing about how he inherited his career from his father. A late-act tragedy undermines Snow's bombast, and a subsequent shot of him and his son in a trashed bedroom conveys the stunted maturity of the charismatic drug dealer, who sums up his self-justifying gangster ethos by telling his girlfriend: "There ain't no right or no wrong way. There's the need way."
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