Director: Carlos López Estrada
Writer: Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs
Cast: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar
Seen on: 21.8.2018
Collin (Daveed Diggs) has only a few days of probabtion left and he is doing everything to keep his head down. That isn’t always as easy as he’d like it to be, especially since his best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) tends to not think about consequences too much. As they both move through their home turf of Bay Area, Oakland, circumstances force them to face some hard truths about where they belong and what race and class have to do with their standing in life.
Blindspotting is a fantastic film: well-made, political and emotional, it brings home quite a few truths about many issues at the intersection of race and class – and even manages to be funny while it does so.
I had heard literally nothing about Blindspotting and it was mostly coincidence that I stumbled into a screening while in Canada (I don’t think it ever really reached Europe at all?). And it was one of the most pleasant surprises that I had in the cinema this year.
It’s rare that a film manages to be so many things at once. Blindspotting starts off as a (really funny) comedy. It builds on the relationship between Collin and Miles – best friends since about forever, thick as thieves, different and yet perfectly suited to each other. Their friendship and the chemistry between the two is the heart and soul of the film. And if it had just been that – watching the two of them hustle through their life while bantering – I think I would have already enjoyed the hell out of the film. Especially with the great performances by both Diggs and Casal (who also wrote the film and are, I think, best friends in real life as well).
But the film is not content with that. With a bang, you get the fact thrown in your face that being a poor, black man in the USA who has to struggle just to stay out of prison, just to stay alive, really is no joke. And it’s different from the life a poor, white guy has to live – even if both have to deal with some of the same issues.
The injustices and horrors of race (and class) relations make up the very fabric of life and the film manages to show just how ubiquitous they are. It does feature a few actually fear-inspiring nightmare sequences, but much more suffocating are the million little things that are everywhere, especially when it comes to interactions between the police and black people.
The film always brings it back to Miles and Collin though, finding ways to show that while these politics also affect personal relationships, those very same relationships are also a source of strength and hope. And thankfully, through it all, the film never loses itself in hopelessness, no matter how fucked up things are.