Netflix’s Dude is much more than a coming-of-age comedy. At its heart, it’s a story about grief and how it can completely change a person.
The beauty of this movie is that it’s a story with a sprinkle of everything – comedy, drama, relationship turmoil, sexual liberation, etc. However, it mixes all of these themes so seamlessly it just feels like a genuine account of four friends preparing for their epic transition from high school life to college life.
How many Amelias (Alexandra Shipp) do we know? The romantic who always falls for a guy before their relationship ever becomes official. What about Lilys (Lucy Hale)? How many people know a straight-A, never-a-hair-out-of-place perfectionist who’s bound for president or CEO status in the future?
These characters are so organic and their reactions to the events that occur in their lives–like almost getting busted drunk and high at a party or scrambling for a date to the school dance–are so natural it’s near impossible not to identify with what they’re going through.
In the same vein, who hasn’t experienced a heartbreaking loss in their lives? If you have then you understand how devastating that can be.
Who we spend our time with and who we love directly molds our lives and our personalities, so it’s completely understandable that when that person leaves you would become an entirely different person. However, it’s also understandable if you don’t.
And that’s what Dude explores in this heartwarming tale. We focus on two young women with different grieving methods that manifest in conflicting ways.
Chloe (Kathryn Prescott) deals with the loss of her brother, Thomas (Austin Butler), by trying to move on the best way she knows how: pushing forward and focusing on her future. She prefers distance from the past so she can look forward to a fresh start.
Whereas, Lily clings to the past. Thomas was the second man to leave her. Although her father chose to walk away and Thomas passed away, she’s been virtually abandoned by the two men in her life she loved most.
These wounds, paired with her obsessive need to be perfect and have everything around her be perfect, cause her to bury herself in what she can control: her memory of Thomas, the school prom, and her future.
So, of course, she snaps when life comes and shatters her ideal of control. She has feelings for Noah (Alex Wolff) but she feels loving someone who isn’t Thomas would be betraying him. She also wants to be as close as possible to Chloe because she’s the only one who shares her memories of Thomas but Chloe wants to take her own path.
Lastly, and more devastatingly, Lily gets raped by a drunken asshole.
If that’s not something that takes away all of your control and agency, what is?
This traumatic event, followed by a clash with her friends, forces Lily to look at herself and re-evaluate the person she has become.
The only aspect I would change about Dude would be to put more emphasis on how her rape affected her. We saw it was the last straw but I would’ve loved to see how she coped with this gross invasion.
It would’ve beautifully layered the narrative, even more, to emphasize how the part of herself she lost that night compared to the loss of Thomas, her father, and the impending loss of Chloe in her life. I feel like something as earth-shattering as getting raped needed a little more room to breathe.
Nevertheless, a movie only has so much time to tell a cohesive story and only so much money it can use to bring it to life.
And I must say, Olivia Milch did wonders with the time, space, and money she had for this venture.
Dude is an exceptional movie and if you haven’t seen it — you should, and if you have seen it — you should see it again.
The full movie is available on Netflix. What did you guys think of Dude? Which of the four best friends and leading ladies are you most like? Lily? Chloe? Amelia? Rebecca? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!