Dope (2015)

Director: Rick Famuyiwa
Writer: Rick Famuyiwa
Cast: Shameik MooreTony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Zoë Kravitz, Rakim Mayers, Quincy Brown, Chanel ImanBlake Anderson, Roger Guenveur Smith, Forest Whitaker
Seen on: 18.7.2016

When Malcolm (Shameik Moore) isn’t busy geeking out with his best friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) about 90s HipHop, he dreams of college. Being from a tough neighborhood, he knows that he needs everything to go very right for him to stand a chance of being accepted into a good school. But then he meets Nakia (Zoë Kravitz) and decides to go to a party to meet her again. And that’s where the trouble starts as suddenly, he finds himself in possession of drugs belonging to Dom (Rakim Mayers) and he has to get rid of them without getting caught or pissing anybody of – which is easier said than done.

Dope is a fun film that tackles a lot of political issues in an entertaining and not too much simplified way.


Dope could have very well been a tragedy. If it was done by a white person, it probably would have been – promising young black man from a tough neighborhood gets sucked into drug deals instead of college. Fortunately though, Dope goes the other way. It sees the humor in the situations and more importantly, it lets Malcolm and his friends win. We have seen so many films where white people get away with the crazy stuff they do because they’re good people and circumstances were against them, but it is rare to get a film where this happens for a black person.

This is not the only way the movie goes around expectations. It has a token white person who gets to be the kooky sidekick to the main event. Other than him, there is no white person of consequence in the story. That means that we don’t get yet another film where a white dude (and usually it’s a man) pulls all the strings and has his minions of color scrambling. Which is also very nice for a change.


Dope also includes various moments where racism is directly discusses and critiqued, be it the use of “nigga” and the difference it makes whether it’s said by a white person or a black person, or the wonderful monologue at the end of the film where Malcolm addresses the audience directly.

The only drawback for me was that in all the black empowerment I felt that the women were thrown under the bus a bit. There’s a lot of male gaze and apart from Diggy, who – being a lesbian – is practically shown as one of the guys and not really a woman, they’re very reduced to their romantic and/or sexual availability to the guys (and Diggy).

That aside, Dope is simply a fun and entertaining film. I’m not too much into drug stories, but I enjoyed Malcolm and his friends (especially Diggy) and I wanted to see them succeed. There wasn’t a boring minute in the film, so even if there were plenty of films by and about black people that do all the things I mentioned, Dope would have still been a very nice way to spend an evening.

dope2Summarizing: Watch it.

2 thoughts on “Dope (2015)

  1. Glad you enjoyed it. It was one of my favorites at last year’s Viennale. I even considered not watching it as I was tired from the film before but then last minute decided to stay and I didn’t regret that at all. I’m still stunned by the positivity and contentedness the film left me in. As you say, not a boring minute, entertaining and still thought provoking. Certainly something unexpected, but a most pleasant surprise.

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