‘Dear White People’
There are razor-sharp points aplenty filed in Justin Simien’s rollicking race dramedy, though its most cogent trait may simply be the kinds of characters it includes — types who rarely, if ever, make it to the screen. Set at a college where the white populace dwarfs the black students, it gives face time to the gay black nerd (Tyler James Williams), the “angry black woman” (Tessa Thompson) who’s secretly into Ingmar Bergman and white boyfriends, the aspiring YouTube star (Teyonah Parris) acutely aware of her “blackness” to white followers. The diversity of modern black life is all over “Dear White People,” to the point where that observance takes precedence over its more sellable quality: the examination of stupid white people. The story revolves around the lead-up to an ironic (and painfully misjudged) “black party” thrown by the white populace, but Simien doesn’t let story rule the day. He balances blood-drawing satire with character, and crams his tightly-wound debut with both. This is great stuff, but Simien’s next film is going to seriously scorch some earth.