Dope is a 2015 American comedy-drama coming-of-age film written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa and produced by Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi. It stars Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Kimberly Elise, Chanel Iman, Lakeith Stanfield, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, and ASAP Rocky. The film was also executive produced by Pharrell Williams and co-executive produced by Sean Combs
For starters, let's talk about this film’s soundtrack. Quite a while ago I made an observation of my own regarding the inclusion of Music related to the urban lifestyle (more specifically, music that has been released and is often associated with a person of color); to summarize, I noticed that in many movies there may be scenes here and there that use this kind a music to infer a tone of delinquency. If you ask me, this is unbelievably lazy and not to mention is subliminally racist. ‘Dope’ goes above and beyond challenging the use of this medium in a haphazard manner, and subsequently turns these opportunities on to its head. My only hope can be that this is taken to heart by individuals that are passionate about filmmaking and that this inspires some amount of significant change in this one element of plot development In the grand scheme of things.
The nature of this story works to avoid making any of the characters portrayed as one-dimensional ; moreover, this film refuses to imply that people or either “good” or “bad”, and that instead the truth of this matter is much more complicated than people would like to accept. There is no implication that the characters shown have a cookie-cutter personality and an otherwise mundane or predictable life story. It would have been easy to forgo this route and instead willingly paint these individuals as self-serving and simple, and the absence of this is critically essential when deciding how to narrate what could be a reality for people observing this for the first time as a result of their own privileged existence.
On the topic of privilege, the use of one of the only white characters present as a means of discussing social commentary when it comes to racial relations was absolutely ingenious. There is an exploration of the assumptions people make about the way in which they handle interracial interactions and this is done in a way that is seamless and respectful to the overarching plot. I imagine there are many people who will write this off as proof that “racism goes both ways”, and if that applies to the person reading my review then all I can say is this: I feel an immense sorrow for you. While this isn't a weakness, it is just worth saying that the understanding this white character has of information he is receiving from other characters Is never touched or elaborated on, but the choice to exclude this has real-world applications on its own. Many props to the director and the screenwriter for obviously taking this in to consideration.
Lastly, this is a meticulous combination of events some people will use to justify the thoughts they have about a person of color and elements that will surprise your average backwoods racist; I hope - and when I say hope, I truly mean it - that there are many people who will watch this and accept the chance they have to broaden their senses and think more deeply about the perception some might have about the world around them. It’s just much too important - and perhaps even more so given recent current events.
Intricately designed and wholesomely enjoyable: I would recommend!