Movie Review: ‘White Crack Bastard’

“White Crack Bastard” is a tough movie to defend. It’s a meandering, eager-to-offend piece of pseudo-exploitation, ostensibly satirizing white male privilege while engaging in a fair amount of racial, gender, and gay stereotypes itself. The whole framework of director James Cullen Bressack’s tale of a down-and-out white photographer, Luke (Rhett Benz), who gets his rocks off smoking rock implies that crack addiction is interesting only when it’s the white guy that’s the addict. The crack world, full of addicts (nearly all of whom are Black), dealers (Mexican), and prostitutes (also mostly Black) is juxtaposed against the comforting stability of Luke’s white girlfriend.

The ultimate point seems to be that Luke can dip into this world at will, and, because of his considerable privilege, he get himself out pretty easily, while Gina (Taja V. Simpson), a black female crackhead, is not so lucky. It’s an intriguing point, but the film takes a bumpy, problematic path getting there. “White Crack Bastard,” in other words, wants to have its crack and smoke it, too.

And yet, indefensible as the movie often is, there is a surprising amount to like about it, too. Bressack’s woozy direction creates a drugged-up, stoned-out vibe that is fun to coast along with. Bressack creates some surprisingly stylistic sequences, including a weird first-person flashback that plays like a haunted house ride. Whatever its faults, this lo-fi panache makes it hard to completely write off “White Crack Bastard.” Bressack too often falls back on stock drug-people-act-so-crazy antics, but his genuine attempt to capture something of the feel of a crack high prevents the film from lapsing into pure drugsploitation.

Unfortunately, the vibes don’t carry over to the story itself. There’s little dramatic thrust, making the film, which runs under 80 minutes, feel considerably longer than it actually is. And the characters here are too thinly drawn to really register as full human beings. More often they are just crack-high and screeching at each other. Luke, the most fully drawn character, registers as kind of bland. He’s a bastard to be sure, but not a particularly interesting one. Simpson, however, brings deranged commitment and surprising pathos to a character that the script does not seem to have fully worked out.

And that sense that things haven’t been fully worked out runs through the whole of this film. It never seems to know what exactly it wants to be, and thus it never catches fire as either a crazy drug story or a subversive satire. But, on the other hand, there is a white guy who smokes crack, and he’s a bastard. So, at the very least, no one can claim Bressack of false advertising.

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