Welcome to this issue’s instalment in ‘Indie Dive’, a series that delves into the recesses of the independent film world and pulls out a gem. Each Indie Dive column spotlights a lesser known indie film, hopefully convincing you to add it to your film queue. Part three of the Indie Dive series brings you Dope.
Malcolm, a black teen from a crime-ridden California neighborhood, is an intelligent high school student with his eyes set on Harvard. With the help of a busted drug deal and series of coincidences, Malcolm mistakenly finds himself in possession of a bag of drugs, a gun, and a phone that do not belong to him. While some hilarity ensues, so does to real life; while a bag of dope landing in his lap is a somewhat funny circumstance, it also means added temptations, angered drug dealers, futures in jeopardy, lives in danger.
Dope is a film that shows that coming-of-age often means coming to terms. Malcolm and his two friends are teens consumed with nostalgia for decades past, epitomized by Malcolm’s flat top haircut. The friend group also represents a group of people who do not fit into the stereotypes their race, gender, and sexuality would suggest. Part of this film is recognizing the that the characters’ experiences push far beyond stereotypes. And, part of this film is recognizing that sometimes people are forced to become statistics; sometimes all some people see when they interact with Malcolm is a manifestation of stereotypes.
Dope features a great soundtrack, with tracks by Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy to name a few. The talented young actors who fueled this movie delivered some commendable performances. Nearly all of the characters challenge labels in some way. Take the character of Dom, a drug dealer (played by rapper A$AP Rocky), that often tries to downplay his intelligence; Dom is someone you come to realize might have achieved great things had his circumstances been different.
All in all, Dope is a wonderfully original film that tells a fresh, funny, and touching story.