Review: Dope

Several weeks ago a film by the name of ‘Dope’ came to my attention due to the ever-socially active actress, Zoë Kravitz, and her copious posts promoting it on Instagram. The vibrant images she was posting immediately caught my attention due to the vivid colours and throwback fashion: The characters of this film embrace 90s to the core. Last night, I finally had the pleasure of watching the film and I must say I was even more enraptured than anticipated.

From left to right: Jib, Diggy and Malcolm

The film follows three teens living in an unprosperous neighbourhood in America who get caught up in some trouble after being invited to a drug dealer’s party. What’s most engaging about these characters is that they don’t fit into a mere two-dimensional stereotype; They transcend the usual teenage clichés that most films these days entail. Malcolm Adekenbi, (the main character played by Shameik Moore), is a senior in high school living with his single mother and aspiring to go to Harvard. A key focus in the film, as in most stories set in high school years, is the fact he’s ridiculed for his lack of interest in sport, instead he opts to be in a punk band with his best friends. The uniqueness of these somewhat naïve, yet desensitised, teens creates an endearing relationship between viewer and character. Malcolm is the ultimate underdog, and who doesn’t love one of those?

Not only does ‘Dope’ have some promising up and coming talent such as Tony Revolori from ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, it also features many recognisable faces such as A$AP Rocky, Zoë Kravitz, Tyga and Forest Whitaker as the narrator. With an enlightening soundtrack including music from lesser known groups such as LolaWolf and Awreeoh to greats like Public Enemy, this is certainly a film that ought to appeal to music lovers. A good soundtrack, to me at least, is vital in creating a truly memorable film.

You may be thinking I’ve painted a perfectly decent picture of the film so far and why ever should I have been pleasantly surprised? Well, ‘Dope’ is so much more than I could have expected for two reasons: Firstly, it completely blindsided me with a plot twist, (and I usually pride myself on being able to spot those), and secondly, it features a key message about our misconceptions regarding race. One of the most arresting scenes within the film involves a visual recreation of Malcolm’s essay when applying for university, asking questions that are sure to resonate with many viewers. In a time where racial prejudice in America is so prominent, this is a film that, albeit funny, has a serious message that should be listened to.

Overall, ‘Dope’ is an aesthetically pleasing film with a wonderful soundtrack, heartfelt characters and a genuine purpose. If this review hasn’t convinced you to watch it then it must just be my poor writing; I cannot recommend this film enough.


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