This movie was fantastically acted, beautifully shot, and the plot was way better than 99.999999 % of any American film or TV show that depicts high school life. If you want to watch a show with intelligent upper-class teenagers behaving realistically when running criminal operations like drug use in a school with ungodly amazing dialogue throughout the entire runtime of a film, then do yourself a favor and watch this movie now. Holy fucking shit, the dialogue is so damn good that I want to see this director, Tayarisha Poe, make another film with a similar premise or a sequel to this. However, I mostly want her to be appointed as some type of dialogue editor for every film involving shitty teen dramas forever. And, I mean to the point that we need this woman’s brain genetically cloned into an AI supercomputer and have that supercomputer rewrite script dialogue for every high school-oriented film in the way that Tayarisha Poe thinks would be best so that we may forever enjoy intellectually sophisticated dialogue in all high school-oriented films forevermore. Upon transplanting Tayarisha Poe’s brain to an AI Supercomputer, our human civilizations will move upward to a higher degree of cultural sophistication when it comes to British or US films about high school drama. All stupid, filthy US high school romantic comedies will be rewritten to Tayarisha Poe levels of masterful dialogue and I will never have to suffer any further cringe or stupidity from shoddily written Hollywood crap again because everything will be an impeccable Tayarisha Poe standard. Please, Tayarisha Poe, if somehow in a hundredth-million in one chance that you ever read this, donate your brain to science and save the English-speaking Western civilization from our barbaric, filthy stupid high school romcom drama garbage! You’re our only hope! It’s like Selah said, it’s for the greater good! Anyway, anyone who wants to watch intelligent, realistic, and sophisticated dialogue involving a high school setting with teenagers owes it to themselves to watch this film at least once.
Lovie Simone and Celeste O’Connor do amazing work as Selah Summers and Paloma respectively. They look beautiful in every frame too. I adore the slow moments in this film when the characters are alone and thinking in stillness as it felt so realistic. I love that after angry fights, they acknowledge their faults and apologize. I love the character conflicts, the building up to the mystery of Selah’s former friend Tela and what happened to her, and what Selah ultimately does due to her ego despite it being against her own stated interests. I really love the few seconds before the ending, but I must admit I felt confused by the ending itself. I thought perhaps Selah was revealed to have tuberculosis the first time I watched it, but then I realized it was due to a punch that she received. The ending and the character moments of repose certainly felt authentic, but I did feel confused with how it ended. It felt like a David Lynch ending for teen dramas. I wouldn’t be opposed to or mind a sequel, if Tayarisha Poe wanted this to be more than one film. I did find both the beginning and the ending to be off-putting when watching it, but everything in-between was masterful and I loved it. It feels so fresh from an egregious amount of stupid writing, forced plot, forced drama, and other crap usually associated with high school teen drama. Do you all recall the human garbage that was “A secret life of the American Teenager”? I watched one episode out of curiosity at an erstwhile friend’s house with another friend and all three of us were confused because multiple girls were pregnant and the guys were all in love with other pregnant girls. Selah and the Spades is so damn refreshing compared to that shit. On another note, it’s nothing like Heathers. Heathers was about teenage suicide. This is more like the anime Classroom of the Elite entwined with US boarding school party and drug operations with different factions working together to dominate the school above the school authorities and in opposition to the more violent student Prefects.
The plot of the film is essentially Selah scouting for a successor to her end of the criminal operations in the school, selecting and elevating Paloma through genuine friendship, the mystery of Selah and Tela’s relationship underscoring a mysterious tension within Selah and causing future tension between her and Paloma, and Selah betraying her own interests out of jealousy and ego to nearly get Paloma killed before briefly considering the consequences and possibly ending her own life out of self-loathing before her friends call back for her.
Overall, I enjoyed it and I consider it a very good film. If your expectation is wanting to see something refreshing in the US high school drama genre with brilliant dialogue in a high school drama about a 17-year old girl who runs drug operations while suffering family tension and pressure from society, then you should consider watching this film. If you just love a film with brilliant dialogue, similar to a Tarantino film, then you should watch this film. Overall, if I judge it as a high school drama, it gets a 5 / 5. If I were to evaluate the film compared to others more generally, then perhaps a 4.5 / 5 due to the off-putting opening and ending. Nevertheless, I certainly enjoyed this film and I recommend it.