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Dear White People

Now Playing

6:00 & 8:15 each evening
1:00 & 3:30 matinees Sat & Sun

Rated R; 100 minutes


A.O. Scott, The New York Times (excerpted)

Justin Simien’s first feature film is as smart and fearless a debut as I’ve seen from an American filmmaker in quite some time: knowing but not snarky, open to influence and confident in its own originality. It’s a clever campus comedy that juggles a handful of hot potatoes — race, sex, privilege, power — with elegant agility. You want to see this movie, and you will want to talk about it afterward, even if the conversation feels awkward. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There is great enjoyment to be found here, if not alot of comfort.

Dear White People is the title of a series of campus radio broadcasts and viral Internet videos concocted by one of the movie’s major characters, a college student named Samantha White, played with heartbreaking poise by Tessa Thompson. Sam, as she is called, uses “Dear White People” to call out the hypocrisies, blind spots and micro-aggressions that African-Americans experience in their daily encounters with well-meaning Caucasians. Such people, including many of her fellow undergraduates at the Ivier-than-Ivy League Winchester University, make up a big part of Sam’s fan base. The eagerness of some whites to prove that they “get it” on matters of race — their clumsy appropriations of African-American idioms and pop-cultural forms — is one of the targets of Sam’s critique and Mr. Simien’s satire.

And so there is the tendency of some black people to poke at that insecurity, and to engage one another in fierce battles about authenticity, appropriate conduct and political strategy. Dear White People deals out a deck of race cards, most of them jokers. To change the metaphor, the film leads its characters and its viewers — pale-skinned critics very much included — down a path strewn with eggshells, some of which sit on top of land mines.

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