Plot – Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighbourhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure – Dope.
Director – Rick Famuyiwa
Released – 2015
Firstly I’m neither black nor American, which means some of the elements were decidedly not aimed at me, especially the political critiques. However, this didn’t prevent me from finding Dope a joy to watch, keeping me glued to my seat throughout.
Visually this movie is exactly what I was expecting from a Rick Famuyiwa movie. The cinematography throughout is a visual treat, while the vibrant colours are both reminiscent of ’90s teen rom-coms the movie clearly wanted to emulate and serves as a visual representation of the characters’ outlooks on life, which is always great as too often films set in inner-city America, choose to dress their characters in muted tones to mimic the tough lives they lead. Here, however, the three principal characters never let this get to them and see the world in a refreshing manner.
Another highlight is the movie’s soundtrack, it was incredibly eclectic and somewhat of a surprise given most modern coming-of-age dramas tend to stay pretty vanilla in terms of music choices. What I also loved about Dope was the comic vein that ran throughout, the “pray the gay away” scene especially had me laughing out loud and highlighted just how well the movie handled sexuality, with all the characters comfortable with who they were and it was never treated as an issue.
Overall Dope is a welcome surprise filled with memorable moments, funny situations and a cracking soundtrack that I just had to track down on Spotify.