Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, Dope reveals the lives of three high school seniors Malcolm (played by Shameik Moore), Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori).
When I first watched the trailer for Dope there was nothing about it that drew me in - I actually stopped watching after about two minutes as I felt it was giving too much of the story away (I hate it when trailers do that). So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be actually, rather… ‘dope’ (I couldn’t not!).
Branded as '90s hip-hop ‘geeks’ with plans of attending Harvard, the trio unknowingly end up with a rucksack full of dope after a party thrown by a local drug dealer is raided by police. Thrown into unfamiliar territory and being hunted down by a rival gang, they are left with no choice but to take matters into their own hands.
The beginning of Dope is a little slow-paced and there were no clear boundaries between the comedic one-liners and fatal shootings; the acts seemed to bleed into one another making it difficult to decipher the establishing genre and resonance of the film. Having said that though, the narrative shifts constantly, and throughout the film the audience is taken back in time to reveal integral parts of the plot. This non-linear style results in some humorous encounters, linking the characters together as the story travels back and forth. For me, this was an ingenious way to add small plot twists and transformed what could have been a basic timeline into an unfolding adventure.
Our leading protagonist and his two side kicks also make up the fictional, post hip-hop punk band ‘Awreeoh’ (pronounced Oreo). All their songs were written by Pharrell (also an executive producer) bringing me to my favourite part of the movie; the soundtrack. A powerful mix of current and classic, featuring artists like Naughty By Nature, Watch The Duck and Gill Scott-Heron, the score is a perfect representation of the characters' surroundings, personality and journey.
Dope is quirky and original, and portrays generation Y and Z with real honesty.
It was the first film to accept bitcoin for ticket purchases in over 900 cinemas and with a mere budget of $700,000, (which is roughly £460,000, tiny by Hollywood standards) it continues to impress.
And my overall impression? Its actually, rather Dope.
Dope is now showing at FACT. Click here to book tickets.