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Review: ‘Driving While Black’ delivers pointed commentary with a laid-back L.A. vibe

Dominique Purdy, from left, Shiela Tejada and Tony Evanglista in the movie "Driving While Black."
(Artists Rights Distribution)

Dominique Purdy, native Angeleno comedian and rapper (a.k.a. the Koreatown Oddity) co-wrote and stars in the autobiographical “Driving While Black,” directed by Paul Sapiano. This anecdotal film chronicles some of the experiences Purdy has had with law enforcement while out and about on the streets of Los Angeles.

Purdy stars as Dmitri, a struggling artist and a pizza delivery guy, just trying to get ahead in life, earn more money and make it to a job interview as a Hollywood tour bus guide. But every day it seems like there’s a new vehicular obstacle to overcome, from unpaid parking tickets to the near-daily experiences of getting pulled over by the same cops.

“Driving While Black” follows a loose narrative of Dmitri’s daily struggle, building from incident to incident as he makes his way around the city. Simultaneously, the story follows the embittered cops, from their morning briefings to their traffic stops, illustrating the institutional issues and cynicism that pervade their work. It all snowballs to a climactic incident that allows Dmitri to finally confront his oppressors.

The film coasts on Purdy’s laid-back stoner charm, and though the film itself is a bit too slack, it’s a fine showcase for his voice, which delivers some pointed social commentary despite the chill vibes.

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‘Driving While Black’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: Cinemark 18 & XD, West L.A.

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