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Dear White People
IMDB Rating : 6.3
IMDB Votes : 11,783
User Reviews : 53
Movie Rated : R
Date Released : 15 January 2015
Run Time : 108 min
Movie Genre : Comedy, Drama
Movie Director : Justin Simien
Movie Writer : Justin Simien
Movie Stars : Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris
Dear White People A social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black-face party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in acutely-not-post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.
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Review Dear White People :
Entertaining, thoughtful, with appealing acting and good writing, especially the dialogue.
Dear White People: A love Letter from Director Justin Simien
Dear White People is Justin Simien's first feature, and he succeeds producing a smart send-up of racial tensions at fictional Winchester University. Individually, the characters seem a bit typical, as if Simien's had to make sure he featured the radical black female, the mixed race characters, the Asian hip-hop student, the radical black man, the racist white cut up (and his side-kicks), the strict black dean who has to fit in and not play the minstrel and his good looking son, the gay black man who doesn't fit in anywhere, etc. However, taken as a whole, we see the purpose of each character; each character represents points in the racial conflict that still exists in the U.S. And we see over time the characters slide out of their roles as they learn they are just roles that society expects them to play.
The film's last third brings all the disparate characters together and works surprisingly well. The middle third of the film features romances that are a forced at times, but these were integral to the finally of the film. Filming romantic scenes is difficult for even veteran directors, let alone a first timer.
The main character is Sam White, a black woman (mixed, actually) who has a campus radio show called "Dear White People." On the show, she dispenses advice for white people; however, the show is ostensibly her observations of race in society written for her fellow black students. Those bits are well written and performed and appear throughout roughly the first two-thirds of the film.
The acting ranges from good to exemplary. Tessa Thompson as Sam has a wonderful voice and acting range, though her face isn't always able to express the range of emotions her voice does. She is one of the most beautiful (by society's standards) people at a very sexy university. Even the dorky looking Tyler James Williams (from Everybody Hates Chris) was adorable as the awkward Lionel. Apparently, you had to send in a portfolio and look sexy to go to Winchester U. Even the white guys are hot: Justin Dobies. By the way Justin, keep the beard.
That leads me to the one downside of the film. It doesn't deal with class or many of the other racially charged issues such as inequality of justice, police brutality, unequal education, etc. It does touch on representations of blacks in the media as a main theme. Moreover, by the end of the movie, it didn't matter. The film was about how so many educated people can be so racially clueless and how we don't and may never have a complete grasp of race in our society. As one black student said about the whitest, most racist campus house: they are the most clueless group of erudites on campus.
Despite not focusing on class, the film cleverly threads questions about race into the film, including:
Can blacks be racist? As Sam said, "Black people can't be racist, for racism is institutional "
Do whites need black friends to not be racist?
What happens to gay men in black culture?
If you are mixed, are you truly black?
What does it mean to be a real black person and not a "nose job."
After seeing the movie, I more fully understand why a black person might want to go to a historical black college like Spelman.
Rating: Pay Full Price
I was entertained, and I found the characters interesting. The film's last 20 minutes makes up for the lag in the middle. Ms. Thompson is compelling; the camera loves her. Mr. Williams is a bit too much like Chris Rock as a kid until the end of the movie where his character becomes deservingly sympathetic. The film is thoughtful and doesn't stereotype (much) as it displays stereotypes. It shows characters that grow and step out of their self-imposed racial roles. I give the film bonus points for the degree of difficulty of the topic. It was worth seeing "Dear White People" in the theater to hear the audience laugh and clap. Not bad for a debut, Mr. Simien.
Peace, Tex Shelters