REVIEW: Blindspotting Depicts a City in Flux

Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs in Blindspotting.

2018 is shaping up as a banner year for black cinema. Three of the most talked-about films revolve around the African-American experience, with a complexity seldom seen before: Sorry to Bother You, BlacKkKlansman, and Blindspotting stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

Blindspotting doesn’t have the scope of BlacKkKlansman, but is the most well-rounded of the bunch. The brainchild of hip-hop artist Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) and poet Rafael Casal, Blindspotting is a dramedy that follows two friends/co-workers over a weekend in Oakland. Colin (Diggs) is three days away from finishing his probation. Of course they will be the longest 72 hours of his life, particularly after his compadre, the hothead Miles (Casal), purchases a gun for protection.

Not only Miles puts Colin’s freedom in jeopardy. The jailbird witnesses the murder of a black man at hands of a white cop, and getting involved seems inadvisable in his situation.

There are plenty of dark corners in Blindspotting, but also levity. Diggs and Casal use their real-life friendship to push each other into unconventional territory. Every so often the gun reappears to stir the pot. The old rule “if you show a gun in the first act, you should expect it to go off by the third” is used to subvert expectations brilliantly.

Ultimately, this is a film about breaking the black/white divide. In a normal movie, Colin would come to terms with the fact Miles brings him down and cut him loose. Blindspotting values class awareness and loyalty higher, so the decision is not as clear. The movie also deals with the tensions that come from gentrification. Once a blue-collar hub, Oakland is enduring a constant influx of hipsters escaping San Francisco, driving prices up and occupying spaces that used to belong to the working class.

The ending is bold and works proportionally to the audience’s investment on the characters: It can be exhilarating or take you out of the movie entirely. Regardless, one must acknowledge the film’s willingness to go for broke. 3.5/5 prairie bros.

Blindspotting opens today at Rainbow Cinemas – Studio 7.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.

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