Several factions of students compete for dominance at the Haldwell boarding school. Senior Selah (Lovie Simone) is the head of The Spades, a club known for drug dealing. Her biggest rival is Bobby (Ana Mulvoy Ten), who commands the drama nerds. Staying on top isn't easy for Selah, with added pressure from her mother (Gina Torres) to keep grades up for college prospects. The school's Headmaster (Jesse Williams) is also on her case and there may be a snitch in the group. The pressured teen gets help from right-hand man Maxxie (Jharrel Jerome) and new girl Paloma (Celeste O'Connor), a budding photographer and possible future club leader. Things get interesting when Selah perceives a loss of control.

Writer/director Tayarisha Poe makes an impressive feature film debut with this realistic portrayal of teen angst. While short on plot,
some dynamic performances more than compensate. Lovie Simone is energetic and aggressive as the title character. Celeste O'Connor and Jharrel Jerome believably carry the supporting roles. Some of the lesser players display uneven acting skills, but the leads make up for these minor problems. This dialogue-driven drama with little humor manages to keep the audience engaged with student power struggles and intrigue. The stylized cinematography of Jomo Fray and composer ASKA's electric score add depth to the story. Without really breaking any new ground, this unique point of view is refreshing. The edgy "Selah and The Spades" is a class act. (3.5/5 CAMS)

Rated R (for teen drug content, and language)
Running Time: 97 minutes

Streaming April 17, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.

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