Dope begins with three dictionary definitions of the title, suiting the purposeful restlessness of a movie that’s neatly trisected into three distinct sections: each one assured, stylish and articulate. The first half is a teen film – all the colourful kineticism of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl except with, y’know, something to say – that explodes into a comedy/thriller when its three nerdy protagonists (Shameik Moore, Kiersey Clemons and Tony Revolori) come into the possession of a few keys of molly, finding themselves amongst gunfights and a nude Victoria’s Secret model (Chanel Iman) in the process.
We take a different tack in the back end, with our heroes dealing – both cleverly and quite literally – with the ramifications of possessing thousands of dollars of illicit drugs, while tying things together with a remarkably profound commentary on the challenges of establishing one’s identity in the fraught racial battleground that is modern-day America. The politics are nuanced, but they don’t stop the film from engaging in frivolous fun – sharply edited by Lee Haughan, captivatingly lensed by Rachel Morrison and imaginatively composed by Rick Famuyiwa – all with a killer soundtrack (inc. Nas, Santigold, Public Enemy and, uh, Korn). Whatever your definition, this is dope.