The White Girl

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Drama

Pretty Kim (Troy Beyer), a middle-class, African-American high-school student, seems to have the world at her feet. Her parents love and indulge her, she gets excellent grades and intends to become a lawyer, and her clothes and accessories are infinite in number and variety. But something goes terribly wrong when she gets to college: she becomes a cocaine...read more

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Pretty Kim (Troy Beyer), a middle-class, African-American high-school student, seems to have the world at her feet. Her parents love and indulge her, she gets excellent grades and intends to become a lawyer, and her clothes and accessories are infinite in number and variety. But

something goes terribly wrong when she gets to college: she becomes a cocaine addict, and her grades drop so precipitously that she's placed on academic probation. A sympathetic campus counsellor tries to help, but her advice falls on deaf ears. Efforts to persuade Kim--who protests that she

doesn't see colors, only people--to join the Black Student Union are more successful, however, and through the Union she meets Bob (Taimak), a handsome, hard-working pre-med student. Bob proves a positive influence; he even suggests that they study together, as a means of helping Kim to make up

work she has missed and be able to graduate with the rest of her class. He is Kim's first black boyfriend, and his supportiveness and acceptance helps her admit her drug problem. It appears that Kim has a chance at recovery, until the arrival of her new roommate--seductive, ruthless, manipulative

Vanessa (Teresa Farley), who is determined to become a television anchorwoman, sees people solely in terms of what they can do for her, and is willing to sleep with anyone she thinks can further her cause. She is also a hard-core coke addict, and eventually tempts Kim to go back on the stuff,

after which Kim abandons the antidrug Bob. Vanessa also promises one well-connected TV executive that she will persuade Kim to sleep with him, and agrees to participate in a humiliating sexual charade with another man, all in the name of advancing her career. In time, Vanessa's involvement with a

vicious, drug-dealing pimp has fatal consequences for her, and Kim is nearly killed as well. Bob--who has always hoped that Kim would see the error of her ways and return to him--arrives in time to get her to the hospital. Awakening from her drug-induced coma, Kim realizes she truly loves him, and

the two begin planning a new life together.

The "white girl" of the title is cocaine. It is also, however, an indication of Kim's self-destructive desire to be assimilated by white society without acknowledging her African-American roots. Her warped self-image is made painfully literal in the opening scene, through a lingering tracking shot

of the white Barbie doll surmounting her birthday cake. Written, produced and directed by African-American TV journalist Tony Brown (host of public television's "Tony Brown's Journal"), THE WHITE GIRL is a message movie of the most heavy-handed kind. While its messages are reasonable enough--drug

abuse is dangerous, pride in one's ethnic heritage is healthy, the power of love can help ease the pain of living--they are driven home at the expense of plot, characterization, and other cinematic virtues by Brown, a newcomer to feature filmmaking. One striking scene shows the face of Vanessa,

wearing eerie blue contact lenses emblematic of her rejection of her racial identity, appearing in Kim's mirror like some irrepressible demon from the subconscious, but such effective moments are the exception rather than the rule in this generally clumsy film.

It's bad enough that THE WHITE GIRL is didactic. Unfortunately, like last year's THE BOOST (which also addressed the perils of cocaine dependency), it is also frequently ludicrous, a modern-day REEFER MADNESS. Audiences reduced to laughter by stilted, preachy dialog and inept plot development are

unlikely to pay much heed to a movie's moral lessons. And while THE BOOST, for all it flaws, was vitalized by a riveting James Woods performance, THE WHITE GIRL's cast is clearly too inexperienced to keep the stereotyped nature of their characters from standing out in high relief. THE WHITE GIRL's

"just say no" theme is well-intentioned, but the delivery falls flat. (Violence, drug use, adult situations.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Pretty Kim (Troy Beyer), a middle-class, African-American high-school student, seems to have the world at her feet. Her parents love and indulge her, she gets excellent grades and intends to become a lawyer, and her clothes and accessories are infinite in… (more)

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