July 18th, 2018
STARRING: DAVEED DIGGS; RAFAEL CASAL; JANINA GAVANKAR; ETHAN EMBRY
DIRECTED BY: CARLOS LOPEZ ESTRADA
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Blindspotting is a movie that wakes the audience up. To a life you may not live, to a language you may not speak, a neighborhood that you don’t live in, and a friendship that you do not have. The west-coast drama from director Carlos Lopez Estrada stars Hamilton & Tony-award winner Daveed Diggs as Collin, a man on parole with only 3-days left before he is free from his monitored living arrangements. He works as a mover with long time friend Miles (Rafael Casal), someone who has stuck by his side all his life. Or has he? There are multiple eye opening moments, along with realistic performances, themes that relate to America’s current state of affairs, and a lyrical script co-written by Diggs and Casal, making Blindspotting one of the biggest hits of 2018.
It all takes place in Oakland, where the ghetto is a stones throw away from the gentrification taking place around the corner. Collin was put in jail for an altercation that was not entirely his fault, but now he is left picking up the pieces, working day-to-day, till complete freedom is returned. Miles is abrasive, recklessly purchasing guns when he knows his friends situation, while Collin just wants to find a way out of his past. The two pass time discussing about the changing “hood”, eating bad takeout food, while conversing with the use of their unique freestyle raps. The two are thick as thieves, but there connection is not what it used to be.
At the start of Blindspotting, Collin witnesses a police officer (Ethan Embrey) shoot a man in the back. This moment hangs over our main character’s head, creating an exercise in time, place, and fate, but also a tone setter for how tense his situation is. The script is semi-autobiographical, which is why there is an honest, and open portrayal to the lives of these men. The direction from Estrada is as punchy as the rap rhymes in the script, and although at times it is obvious that Diggs and Casal had not done a lot of film work before this, their raw performances create a natural, and realistic look on these characters.
Throughout Blindspotting, Collin has various dreams of his incarceration, two random customers remind him of the fight that landed him in prison, and flashbacks of his past illustrate the constant pressure he feels from a system that holds him down. As the situations change, it becomes increasingly obvious that Miles might not be the friend he says he is, talking about loyalty instead of showing it, a concept that Blindspotting is brutally honest with. I found the way Blindspotting projected the fearless attitude a white man like Miles could live with, while Collin lives with a heavy burden, to be a perfect example of life today.
Last week Sorry to Bother You was a highly unique film, set in Oakland, but director Boots Riley failed to fully flush out his various, albeit smart ideas. Blindspotting hits it just right. At times a bit lacking in more characters (the women are pushed aside for the men’s childish ways), the Diggs and Casal show are worth the price of admission, including a phenomenal climactic ending with Collin speaking his mind in a freestyle jam that would make L.L. Cool J. blush. Blindspotting never stops telling the audience how it is and you better be listening. You might wake up to what real friendship is. And you might wake up to the reality that many African Americans must live with on a daily basis. Blindspotting opens our eyes to all that we can’t see.
Written by: Leo Brady