First Hit: Extremely well written script about race as viewed by blacks.
Race as it exists in our college campuses and elsewhere is the subject of this extremely well written script. Sam White (Tessa Thompson) does a video blog called “Dear White People”.
She makes pointed observations about how white people interact with blacks on her campus. She’s got a white lover named Kurt (Kyle Gallner) who appears to not care about her color, but is hurt by her hiding their relationship. Lionel (Tyler James Williams) is a somewhat timid gay black writer who moves from one fraternity house to another because he’s always rejected.
The issue with this film is the direction of the actors and some of the actors themselves. It just felt pressed. It was hard to watch sections of the film when the dialog and script was so amazing in what it says, while the visual on the screen was so weak and stilted.
The film covered many aspects of the race issue in the United States, including the well to do black Dean of the school Dean Fairbanks (Dennis Haysbert) and his unending competition with the white school President Fletcher (Peter Syvertsen). Fairbanks son Troy (Brandon P. Bell) tries to please his father, but is very lost and has to learn to find out what is important to him.
The climax of the film is a party where white people come as black people stereotypes or famous black people. The credits show pictures and dates of fraternities/colleges that really had such parties.
Gallner was OK, seemed a bit stiff in the dialogue. Thompson was really good, one of the better actors in this film and has some great lines. Williams was up and down in the role. There were moments of brilliance and others where the sense was he was lost. Syvertsen was OK, but his line “how much are we talking about …” was perfect. Haysbert was very strong as the controlling well to do black man caught in two worlds, wanting change and keeping his position. Bell was good but I couldn’t tell the difference between the role and his poor acting. Being an overly cautious, handsome black man looking for a life path may be him, because his eyes didn't register depth in the role. Justin Simien wrote an amazing and outstanding script. I expect this script/screenplay to be nominated for an Oscar. However he needs to find a director that can share his vision and use actors in a way that can bring his words to life.
Overall: Great story, mediocre execution.