With this and Sorry To Bother You, it’s clear that this is the summer of the Oakland set social commentary – and there’s no way you can deny it!
Synopsis: Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles, work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in. (VVS Films)
Starring: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, and Janina Gavankar
Writers: Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs
Director: Carlos López Estrada
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 95mins
When Blindspotting opened the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it was received as a plain ol’ festival hype. The trailer for this film seemed like it didn’t really have much to say, contrary to the raves that the film got at that very festival but after watching the film, this was definitely not the case. Blindpotting is an engrossing, funny and thrilling film that has a lot to say, and is completely justified through it’s buzz in the spring festival run.
It’s important to note that at the simplest extent, the plot for Blindspotting isn’t that revolutionary. We’ve seen films about people learning about themselves through their probations and house arrests, and that part of it isn’t too special. That is not to say the film as a whole isn’t special- because Blindspotting uses this plot as a base, and builds something truly special with it. The world building here is incredible- for a low budget indie, this film makes Oakland a truly special setting. With the way the city is shot and used as a plot itself, the film is engrossing on it’s own.
On top of this, the films writing may just be the cherry on top. Diggs and Casal, who also play the two leads, truly shock with one of the sharpest screenplays of the year- mainly considering that this is the first time they have written a film. Not only are they so witty and so quick with the way the dialogue pops here, but the way they incorporate the messages about social change- mainly police brutality and race relations – make the dialect in the film almost feel like a poem or a rap, opposed to a screenplay for a narrative feature film. This truly does show that the screenwriters have a talent of using their own musical skills into literature – and the way they imbed the two together is unlike anything in recent memory.
This is also in part, to the performances they give- the way they perform the dialogue in such a sharp way, almost like they are stabbing the audience, creates for a reaction to the exchanges that truly shocks the viewers (and audibly so, at the screening I attended). The rest of the cast is incredible as well, but these two are showcasing themselves here – and do a great job with that. In addition, the way director Estrada wraps this all up in a bow makes for an experience with an attitude and visceral presentation unlike many films out there.
If there’s anything to be criticized here- unfortunately, the second act isn’t as powerful as the first and third that it is sandwiched in between- and kind of brings down the immersive experience that is seen in the rest of the film.
This aside, Blindspotting is a film that should not be missed. This is not only due to how entertaining it is, but also, how hard the messages hit here- creating a pairing of direction and screenwriting that gives us 3 new hollywood auteurs to look out for.