Dear White People
Writer/director Justin Simien’s feature film debut is a thoroughly modern affair. Dear White People is a biting satire based around our “post-racial” society that seeks to make us question that very concept. Featuring the interwoven stories of black students at a US Ivy League university, the film makes use of an impressive script and stellar performances from its young stars to create a humorous yet thought-provoking look at ourselves and our society.
Lead character Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) is the campus activist and hosts a popular provocative radio show that is the film’s namesake. Played brilliantly by Thompson, things turn serious when she is elected as the head of a residence hall, replacing the oppressed son of the dean, Troy (Brandon P Bell). With the help of her student group, a campus culture war is sparked when Samantha no longer accepts the conventions of society around her race. As tensions rise to breaking point, the student paper Pastiche hosts an “Unleash Your Inner Negro” titled Halloween party, and a riot ensues.
The film plays out with news coverage of various real-life race-offensive parties, demonstrating its roots in a sad reality. Identity is an equally big theme in the film, with every character facing a struggle between who they are and who they think they want to be. This, of course, makes it accessible for all audiences, despite the fact that there are numerous jokes that – perhaps intentionally – might elude white audience members and instead entertain black audience members.
Refreshingly sharp editing keeps the film fresh, as does its use of colourful transition screens, both of which serve as a reminder that this is a very present film with very real things to say about today’s world. Tyler James Williams puts in a notable performance as Lionel, a student seemingly out of place in all environments, but blessed with some great lines. Dear White People is a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of modern day life. At times it is not easy to watch, but with its clever script, brilliant performances and excellent editing, it is an impressive film to behold.
Dear White People is released nationwide on 10th July 2015.
Watch the trailer for Dear White People here: