If Blindspotting is in your city this weekend, don’t miss the opportunity to see it!
Lifelong friends Daveed Diggs (yes, he was in Hamilton and was superb as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson) and Rafael Casal spent ten years writing the script for Blindspotting and what a film it is — layered with so many emotions that will have you laughing, crying and amazed throughout its 95 minutes of authenticity.
There’s a lot to process in Blindspotting. Miles (Casal) and Collin (Diggs) are movers. Miles is white and Collin is black. Collin is on the last days of his probation with three days left and he’s trying to stay out of trouble. Miles, his best friend is a hot-head with the best of intentions, but can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Miles has never been to jail.
One night, Collin, stuck at a red light, trying to get home before his 11 pm curfew witnesses a police officer (Ethan Embry) gun down a black man and the images of that night are seared into his mind. The PTSD sequences of the shooting are a cinematic experience as racist energy fills the air. Will he always be that convicted guy? Miles has the street in his bones, he’s cool and hip, but he’s white and is oblivious to Collin’s fear. The scenes where Collin runs through the cemetery are striking visually, but it’s also here where he runs to get away from Miles.
This is Carlos López Estrada’s first outing as a feature film director. He has worked with Diggs and Casal in the past, and succeeds in capturing the heart of their friendship, their brotherly bond.
The themes of Blindspotting: race, brutality, class, the prison system, parole, and gentrification are all presented here in the excellent screenplay. You’re invested in both characters, you don’t want Collin to get into trouble, you want Miles to understand the torment his friend is going through. Blindspotting is the kind of film where you find yourself rooting for the ex-con when he has a gun on a cop. That’s the power of being absorbed into his point of view.
There’s a superb moment in the film that hits the nail on the head and reminds us that we are in America and this is a real problem. Collin is walking down the street at night, a police car follows him and turns its lights on. You feel his fear, even though he’s done nothing wrong, but the car is cruising behind him. He still has a gun in his pocket from the jaw-dropping, heart-stopping, “Oh my God. Dear Lord! Don’t let anything happen” moment that preceded it.
The transition from laughter, sadness to anger is seamless and effortless. Blindspotting is important, funny and thoroughly gripping from start to finish. The final confrontation permeates deeply and the strong performances from both Casal and Diggs resonate.
The screenplay had its genesis in 2009. At the Q&A (moderated by Barry Jenkins!) Casal and Diggs said that they wanted to write about Oakland, their hometown and that’s vividly highlighted here, showing the social divide, the changing dynamics and effects of gentrification.
And, yes, on a side note, what a treat that was. Barry Jenkins needs to moderate more Q&A’s!
Hopefully, the film remains in the conversation for many months. This film deserves more chatter. It’s an excellent and timely examination of today’s America, where racial tensions and police brutality are constantly in the headlines. Diggs and Casal are true artists, and their gift to us is Blindspotting, delivering truth and making us examine our own blind spots.
This is a film that needs to be seen, its tight message needs to be heard. Take yourself with friends to Blindspotting this weekend and talk about the film after. This is an early treat before Awards Season gets into full swing.