DUDE is a coming of age tale revolving around 4 girls in their senior year of high school. The story is one that’s center theme is one of loss. Loss of your friends, your lovers, and your familiarity before entering a bigger more complex universe. While the first half or so fell flat to me, the dialogue, emotional engagement, and cinematography seemingly improved throughout the length of the film.
DUDE begins with the titular girlfriends enjoying the prom of their junior year, the death of Thomas, a boyfriend/brother of the two main characters brings us a skip in time to the actual start of the plot, roughly 3 weeks before the anniversary of his death and the end of their high school career. The film is paced reasonably well, moving organically from one plot point to the next. However, early on in the film I couldn’t help but cringe at the writer’s attempt to mimic young, millennial sounding slang. This film does take place on the west coast however so maybe I’m out of my depth in terms of what the youth sounds like in California or if the absurd glorification of minor’s drug use is true to form. The humor fell flat to me, in part I suspect because it relies on female gross out humor (including quite possibly the most out of place masturbation scene I’ve ever witnessed). This doesn’t strike me as an excuse however, snappy and clever writing can make up for something I don’t empathize with directly (insert Bridesmaids). Towards beginning of the second half of the film I stopped wishing it was over and felt genuine engagement towards the emotional fate of the characters. The dialogue is actually well written when it doesn’t involve awkward colloquialisms that could have been cut entirely. The film really shines when it is focusing on character driven drama based dialogue and set pieces. There is an overwhelming representation of green in this film. From the consistent references to marijuana, the clothing, the set pieces, and the backdrop of many shots are a bright contrast of green against more subdued & muted colors. I don’t think this has any symbolic meaning necessarily, however it is a pleasing visual tone and I thought it was worth mentioning for its consistency. DUDE begins as a chore to watch, but slowly transitions into an emotionally engaging, meaningful take on the distressing experience of growing up.
2 ½ Stars