Release: 4th February 2019
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Collin (Daveed Diggs) 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 (Rafael Casal), 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 neighbourhood they grew up in.
In the long tradition of filmmakers such as Harmonie Korine, early Spike Lee and Jean-Pierre Jeunet; Blindspotting has one finger on the pulse of art house delirium and a foot on the neck of social underclass injustice. It has all the music of a comedy but serves as an epitaph to the post-racial lie of a free America. It is a cocktail of ecstasy and heroin with a long stint of cold turkey in-between. If this sounds like a bi-polar rollercoaster, that’s because it is. And although Blindspotting has its ups and downs, for the most part it is worth the ride.
Fans of Black-ish will instantly recognise Daveed Diggs from his role as Rainbow’s effeminate and wool-gathering brother, Johan. But all preconceived notions need to be parked here. Diggs’ Collin is quiet, focused and, for the most part, petrified of his surroundings. Everything Collin does is on a knife edge, as he approaches the final days of his parole; following a particularly nasty brawl (told in a way reminiscent of Michael Peña’s Ant Man shenanigans). The yin to Collin’s yang, is loudmouth wide boy, Miles; played with aplomb by co-writer Rafael Casal. Both men begin and end the film in the cab of a vehicle, but the Collin and Miles we see at the end of the film are very different from the ones we see at the beginning. As the plot develops, Collin finds himself in one ulcer-inducing situation after another, while Miles heads on a collision course that will find both men fit to burst. This is one of the film’s more engaging and rewarding elements, as Diggs and Casal, along with director Carlos López Estrada find every possible opportunity to create tension. Not a single element is wasted; Chekov’s Gun is both literally and figuratively at play.
Unless you are Baz Luhrmann, there is a chance that Blinspotting’s more eccentric moments might prove slightly distracting from its growing sense of social commentary. Diggs and Casal take aim at everything from cultural appropriation to black lives matter to colourism and gentrification; so you’d be forgiven for struggling with the sudden change to a freestyle rap dream sequence reminiscent of Culture Club music video.
There is a growing trend of culturally relevant tales that are finding unique and expressive ways to explore the black experience of modern America. And although Blindspotting does not have the mass appeal of Get Out, the kudos of Moonlight or the prestige of Blackkklansman, it is worth seeking out for two enigmatic central performances and a whopping 3rd act payoff. Here is hoping Diggs and Casal stick around for a long time yet.
Film Grade: B
Two different commentaries come with two different vibes. But oddly enough, Estrada’s crowing moment is a feature titled Director’s Diary. And aside from some deleted scenes, the fairly lengthy making of has a few worthwhile moments.
Special Features Grade: C+
A layered and bitter tale that flits between black comedy and tense drama, with some decent special features.