Selah and The Spades

Selah and the Spades starring Lovie Simon, Jharrell Jerome, Celeste O'Connor, and Jesse Williams  is a story that allows us a peek into life at a prestigious boarding school. It is directed by Tayarisha Poe.

This film got a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and 77% likes from Google users. It is released on Amazon Prime streaming. I normally enjoy high school coming of age dramas because they are usually light and fluffy with and ultimately delivering a positive message. This was not light  or fluffy.

The film itself was very well done. The acting was top notch. These rising actors will be ones to keep an eye out for as they develop in their respective careers. Jesse Williams made a brief cameo that was not really worth mentioning. It was nice to watch a movie that did not rely on Black caricatures to move the storyline along. It was based on solid writing and good acting. Nevertheless, I am a little indifferent to it only because it was more on the darker side of life or it was just too real. It saddens me what our youth have to deal with as far as emotional growth and struggle. The age of over access to things changes the landscape that they now have to navigate. Ultimately, having access to everything at their fingertips seems to zap our kids of their youth, and maybe that hit a little to close to home for me as a mother of two teenagers. 

The film followed Selah who is the leader of one of the five groups that ran things in the school, each responsible for its own brand of debauchery. The Spades were in charge of making sure the fun kept going with the provision of drugs and alcohol. She was a senior, getting ready to graduate and had to pass the baton on to someone else to carry on the legacy of her work. To me, Selah is not a likable character at all. It is possible that this was purposefully done but I feel that some connection was missing with her that caused me not to really care about what happened to her. The film does pull the veil back a bit to try and give us a reason why this may be the way she is by showcasing some difficulties with Selah's mother.

B. It is a good film. I enjoyed seeing young Black actors in strongly written roles.

Spoilers Ahead
Maxxie- He was a good friend. I was not sure about him at first but he came through for Selah at the end. He clearly had her back and knew what she was capable of. He deserved to have a life and go after his own happiness. Selah apparently could not handle sharing him. She made some effort with his girlfriend but I doubt the sincerity of it.

Bobby- The hate she had for Selah annoyed me at first because I did not realize that it was actually justified which I imagine is how Poe wanted it to come across. Turns out she was genuinely concerned about her friend that Selah played and even put her life in danger.

Paloma- Who knew she would turn into a badass. She represents the dorky girl with glasses that the hot guy turns into a cool chick with a makeover and contacts. Once under Selah's wing she flourished as a boarding school drug dealer (the Spades responsibility among the factions). She genuinely wanted to be friends with Selah and do right by her the following year. She retained that dough eyed nativity even while taking a hold of the operation. Instead of Selah appreciating her likability, she saw it as a threat.

Selah- Where do I begin? I did not like her. He mother, played by Gina Torres (who I adore as an actress), was definitely a bitch. It is not that she was too hard on Selah but that she seemed unfeeling and devoid of any affection towards her daughter. Some people are that harsh. Selah no doubt felt the pressure from her mother and not being able to make her own decisions as being overwhelming. Was this an excuse for her to be a mean spirited person? Selah was manipulative at every turn. I wonder if she ever made any genuine connections. It is understandable the Bobby had a disdain for her. She drugged her friend and had her take the fall. The audience does not realize the truth until Selah tries to do the same thing to Paloma because she did not want Paloma to be better than her.

Selah let her insecurities and fears and lack of control over her life take hold and rule her. This is evident when she stands near the cliff looking over as if longing to hurl herself over the railing. Sadly, I would have been indifferent if she did. Paloma going over would have hurt my feelings more. It is hard to care for the outcome when I do not care for the main character. In the end, it is doubtful that Selah learned anything.


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