After paying for a second screening of Rick Famuyiwa feature film DOPE, I may have figured out why I like the film so much:
1) DOPE has a Dope sound track.
2) DOPE has a cast of 3 friends who are young enough to play vulnerable, innocent and cute, while old enough to be forced to age prematurely, by the plot, and by the key structural antagonist – their environment.
3) DOPE is well written and challenges the most obvious and debilitating stereotypes, while including those same stereotypes for ridicule and sly contempt.
4) DOPE is well directed and edited. Utilizing non-linear timelines and variable frame-rates sparingly, but to great effect… Did I mention that DOPE has a dope soundtrack?
5) DOPE has a poignant score that underlines key emotional beats when we least expect it. This subtlety of the score is emphasized due to it’s stark contrast to the blatantly in-your-face soundtrack.
6) DOPE uses the central conceit of the narrator’s voice (Forest Whitaker) to jump time, economize delivery of information, and achieve comic effect endearing characters who might otherwise be confusing if we were not told ‘how to feel about them’… Kinda like a lot of UK heist films
7) DOPE does have lovely, nuanced performances, even when they could have gotten away with less.