Before delving into the reception of ‘Dear White People’ by moviegoers and critics, let’s take you through its filming process first. The main photography of the movie took place during the late September of 2013 in the Minnesota area, including University of Minnesota and few other locations in the Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The filming got concluded in a total of 19 days and the majority of film was shot by Simien using his Red Epic Digital Camera. In his words, the format used by him made plenty of sense for his kind of production.
‘Dear White People’ received plenty of critical acclaim by critics all over the world after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Rotten Tomatoes, the popular review aggregator website gave the movie a highly impressive 92% rating based on the reviews it received from 99 difficult critics! Its average score from all of them was a brilliant 7.5/10! The website’s consensus was that ‘Dear White People’ added a fresh and welcome voice to the contemporary cinema’s often neglected voice with regard to topics related to ethnicity. The movie dealt with the topic and its timely themes with gratifying and sharp wit, apart from a great deal of honesty and intelligence.
The movie received a handsome score of 79/100 on the Metacritic website, based on the reviews it received from 30 different critics, indicating that it was liked by most of them.
Justin Chang, a popular movie reviewer wrote in his review for the Variety magazine that the movie deserved admiration for the way in which it asked some of the very difficult questions without pretending to show that it had justifiable answers to all of them. He showered praises on the film’s cast by stating that Bell, Parris, Thompson and Williams all managed to make distinctive and strong impressions, with Tessa Thompson standing out as movie’s most enigmatic and brilliant character.
Then there was Justin Lowe who showered more praises on the cast in his write-up for the Hollywood Reporter stating that Tessa Thompson pulled off the character of conflicted student activist with practiced composer, while Tyler James Williams consistently drove up the bewilderment and nervousness of Lionel Higgins’ character throughout the movie, so much so that it heightened tensions to the point of immediate resolutions. First in the form of lovers and then as rivals who have no option but to eventually look for mutual accommodation, Bell and Parris well understand the fact how important it is for Troy and Coco to discover their humility and realign their journeys. In Justin’s opinion, ‘Dear White People’ has a memorable cast and a very edgy premise that allow it to make a significant first impression.
Indiewire’s Zeba Blay also gave a very encouraging review stating that the movie doesn’t make any presumptions about all that comes with being of African-American origin, as it vividly draws its characters and their world. On the other hand, it does manage to provide honest and entertaining depictions of African-American life in a world which is still fair-skinned in many different ways.
Last but not the least, ScottFeinber.com’s Terence Johnson left a positive review too, stating that ‘Dear White People’ is the perfect film keeping the present American generation in mind.