If you would like to read Daniel Azbel’s earlier review of Blindspotting, click here.
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
The run of late-arriving, limited release, critical darlings continues with Blindspotting. After making a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the feature film screenwriting debuts of stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal has earned plenty of acclaim along the way. Everything which the film has received, it has definitely earned while being one of the better offerings of the year so far. At the surface, this was about a journey of self-discovery which is something that is not a new concept but was presented here in such a powerful way thanks to some strong writing full of poignant social commentary about race, police brutality, and gentrification.
The story here was about a man named Collin (Diggs), a recent parolee who must survive his final three days of probation in order for him to get a fresh start. A freak police shooting forces Collin to take a deep look at his own life and his environment. Living and working in a changing neighborhood in Oakland, California with his best friend Miles (Casal), we see how Collin became the man he was. It was this connection with Miles and his neighborhood that shaped him but this connection was also what held him back. Perception and identity played large roles in the story as being a convicted felon made life generally difficult, however, he wanted to be seen as more and to be given a chance to prove it.
The relationship between Collin and Miles was very fun to watch. They were close but it was sometimes difficult to comprehend why they were friends in the first place. Although they frequented the same circles, their lives took much different paths. The biggest reason for this was simply the fact that Collin was black and Miles was white. Being black put Collin at an almost insurmountable disadvantage which left him understandably frustrated. The shooting also left him in a precarious situation because of his parole with the officer involved in the shooting (Ethan Embry) acting as the conduit for his frustration.
The story focused on Collin but it also gave Miles some powerful moments of self-reflection of his own. He and Collin were fairly similar except for the fact that he could get away with more since he was white. He believed that he had to act the way he did in order to survive. The contrast between the careful Collin and the reckless hothead Miles was interesting to see unfold on screen. Along with the drama, the film featured a fair share of lighter moments that were hilarious more often than not thanks to some great banter between Collin and Miles. Because of Diggs and Casal’s musical backgrounds, the delivery was almost lyrical in fashion with each word having just that much more impact.
The best part of the film by far were the performances by Diggs and Casal as Collin and Miles. Both Diggs and Casal were compelling to watch and their excellent chemistry (because they are friends in real life), sold their relationship and the emotional arc it took over the course of the film. Diggs was phenomenal as Collin, delivering an incredible and emotionally nuanced performance. In giving us a character that was easy to root for, he gave us Collin’s anxiety, frustration, and sheer determination to overcome the unfair hand he was dealt. Casal was also up to the task as Miles, delivering a solid performance in his own right.
Overall, this was a powerful drama with an impressive style for an indie film and plenty of hard-hitting social commentary and lighter moments all brought together by a terrific script by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal and their phenomenal performances as the two leads.