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FILM REVIEW: Dopamine Dreams

Written and directed by Alex Diamond, Dopamine Dreams is a crime thriller short about a small drug dealer, Bandana Boy, coerced into selling high end drugs, only to discover that he has to get his hands dirty if he is to fully embrace the new lifestyle. As conflict and confusion sets within himself, Bandana Boy needs to make a decision and he needs to make it fast, before his new boss Dylan decides to take matters into his own hands. From the start, Dopamine Dreams comes across a raw, unfiltered look into the dangerous world of drug dealing and that is its greatest strength. Through the eyes of the protagonist, we are provided a peek into this world and as the protagonist goes deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, so do we as well. With danger lurking at every corner and an inability to distinguish friends from enemies, Diamond captures the essence of the drug world well; a world where fortunes can shift at a moment’s notice and where death is just a moment away. The script keeps the narrative flowing at a breakneck pace. The main characters are introduced and the story gets down to business. We see the protagonist transform from a small-time dealer selling weed into one that pushes experimental drugs costing hundreds of dollars at secret parties. However, with such lucrative business opportunities come the cost and the cost here is violence and torture to keep swindlers and thieves at bay. The protagonist, who had stayed away from such things up till now, is confused whether to truly embrace this new lifestyle or walk away.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the short is how visually arresting it is. From dimly lit rooms of the drug dealers to colorful underground parties, every scene is drenched in colorful hues that give the film a larger than life aura. The sound mixing and sound design is another aspect that elevates the film to a whole new level. From the thumping musical raves at clubs to close calls with the police, the sound mixing really makes the whole experience feel a bit more authentic. In addition, props to the creative team behind the project for using the limited budget to their advantage. The film looks and feels like a proper drug thriller from Hollywood and technically, can give any similarly themed piece of media a run for its money.

Visually arresting and featuring some good performances, Dopamine Dreams takes us into the seeding underbelly of the drug trade as a reluctant protagonist finds himself unwilling to take part in dangerous activities to succeed, only to succumb to the allure and power of this particular lifestyle by the end. Alex Diamond has created a potent film, one that is not afraid to dive deep into the undesirable truths about the drug trade whilst showcasing how it changes those who choose to engage in it for the worse.

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