|LAURA WELLS is an innocent looking, yet exceptionally bright, 19 year old
drug dealer with a thirst for knowledge. She sneaks into classes at Columbia
University where she catches the attention of FRANK OTTERMAN, a tired,
middle-aged professor of English.
Laura's best friend is SHOOTER, a reckless 20-year old drug user. Together
they deliver cocaine and heroin, stashed inconspicuously in Laura's backpack,
for BENNY, a dangerously out of control drug kingpin. Under the caring wing
and watchful eye of NELSON, a burned-out dealer and Benny's right- hand man,
Laura is warned that sneaking into classes will only lead to serious trouble.
Frank tries to learn more about Laura who has brought back a hopeful outlook
to his otherwise painful existence since his wife is in the hospital with
brain damage and his son is dead. When he discovers Laura is not enrolled at
Columbia, she leads him on, under the assumption that she is unable to afford
tuition, but asks to remain in his class. Flattered, he allows her to stay.
Over time, he sees her potential grow, and asks the dean to give Laura a
scholarship. The dean will consider her if she aces the mid-term and final exams.
Wanting her to succeed, Frank offers to tutor Laura. During a mock exam,
Laura asks about Frank's son. Frank tells her a police officer mistook him for
a drug dealer one night, and he was shot and killed. Horrified, Laura
confronts Shooter and finds out she was the one the police meant to shoot that
Unable to face Frank, she ditches the mid-term, but shows up after to confess
about her life as a drug dealer. Frank hasn't time to listen and urges her
to take the exam, which she aces. Frank decides to surprise Laura by putting
her test results in her backpack. When he opens it, he finds cocaine and
heroin. Frank confronts Laura, and she confesses everything. Disappointed, Frank
leaves her alone to fend for herself.
Several days later, as Benny is preparing for a big drug deal, Shooter tells
him Laura made friends with Frank and can't be trusted. Benny stabs and kills
Shooter to put fear into Laura. Meanwhile, Frank's wife dies from a brain
aneurysm. Laura goes to his house and finds Frank drunk and sullen. She
apologizes for everything, and Frank, wanting to save her, encourages her to leave
The next day, Benny is in a rage since Laura has not shown up for the drug
deal, and decides to use Frank instead. The police arrive from a tip made by
Laura. When Laura arrives, she sees Benny walking out with Frank, a gun held at
Frank's back. She runs after Benny hoping to stop him. Benny's gun goes
off and Frank is shot. The police shoot and kill Benny.
Months later, Laura steps out of a lecture hall and opens her backpack. It's
now filled with books. Seeing Frank, she tells him she aced the final and
will be returning to Columbia in the fall with a full scholarship.
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