“Selah and the Spades” (Amazon)

Lovie Simone and Jharrel Jerome star in a scene from the movie "Selah and the Spades." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Amazon Studios)

By Catholic News Service

An elite private high school becomes the unlikely setting for a study of criminality as the graduating leader (Lovie Simone) of a gang that supplies their fellow students with narcotics and alcohol finds a protege (Celeste O’Connor) to train in Machiavellian tactics. While her new friend’s star rises, her right-hand man’s (Jharrel Jerome) begins to fade and a rival (Ana Mulvoy Ten) maneuvers to undermine her mastery.

Writer-director Tayarisha Poe’s psychological drama adopts a neutral stance toward the vices to which its protagonist and her followers cater, instead opting to focus on the origins of her need for control, shifting relationship dynamics and the willingness of her apprentice to use force to become the equivalent of a mafia “made man.”

Mature themes, including drug use and underage drinking, offscreen violence with fleeting gore, a few profanities, a couple of milder oaths, about a half-dozen rough terms, occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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