'Blindspotting' (2018) - Film Review
Carlos López Estrada
Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal
"You monsters got me feeling like a monster in my own town!"
The movie follows Collin and Miles, two best friends in modern day Oakland, California. Collin is trying to make it through the last three days of his probation without any hiccups as he sees this as his chance at a new beginning. However, his best friend Miles is a troublemaker and Collin consistently has to help him out of precarious situations, putting his own life in danger and jeopardizing being put back into prison.
- The movie takes us on the journey of Miles and Collin's friendship, as Miles is very volatile and their relationship is tested because Collin starts to realise what Miles is like. Through these characters and their relationship, the movie tackles very sensitive subject matters.
- Collin, with only a small amount of time left on his probation, witnesses the murder of a black man, who is killed by a cop as he is pleading with him saying "don't shoot, don't shoot". What ensues is the psychological test Collin must deal with as he is conflicted by what he saw but also does not want to go back to prison.
- This movie tackles and addresses some serious issues within US society, and this movie has never been more relevant.
Positives of 'Blindspotting'
I cannot stress the importance of this movie in relation to everything that is happening in the world right now. The film takes on a variety of themes and issues that are all important to try to understand and comprehend. It tackles police brutality, cultural appropriation, race relations and mental health. To try and tie in all of these issues may seem too much, but Blindspotting manages to blend them all together. It does not however, always present the answers to these problems and I thought that was interesting, as many movies would have to tried to do that. It provides a supremely realistic depiction of the problems and injustices that people must face in this world. This is one of the most slept on movies of 2018 and this saddens me, as it is absolutely fantastic. This film is so imaginative and original that I was left speechless afterwards.
- Original and Imaginative - This is quite easily one of the most original films I have seen in this decade. The way that it expresses social issues is almost a light-hearted, but this light-heartedness does not take away from the severity of these issues. This depiction was a really hard task to pull off. However, Blindspotting manages to intertwine all of the themes and create an absolutely riveting movie. This film does not sanitise or sugar coat the horrific issue of racism and police brutality towards black people. This is so original, it addresses real issues and stays away from the typical tropes that we see in Hollywood. It is creative, smart and I thought it was absolutely brilliant.
- Cinematography/Lighting/Colour - This is a fantastic aspect of the movie, and really gives us, as the audience, an insight into some really amazing locations of Oakland, California. The film is visually stunning, depicting places you might not normally see. The way it uses lighting is really brilliant and really adds a cool aspect to the film. The colour palette also really adds a vibrant and beautiful feature to the movie.
- Comedy - I really did not go into this movie and expect to laugh as much as I did, because this film is absolutely hilarious. Collin and Miles are both very funny, but for me, Miles steals the show in this department. He consistently had me laughing and I thought he was such a brilliant and complex character. He has a knack for basically selling trash to people and whenever he does, it's really funny. I think the comedy is attributed to the writing and screenplay, as the dialogue is sublime. Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal) actually wrote the movie and you can instantly see how personal it is for them. The comedy, for the most part, does not take away from the underlying themes of this film and I thought that was really important.
"Do me a favor. I got three days left on this probation. When you got that gun on you, just don't tell me about it. Plausible deniability"
Performances of Note
The acting is fantastic and the relationship between Collin and Miles is the driving force of this movie. I felt like I could really tell how important this film was to these two men and this shines through in their performances. I think all of the secondary characters were great also, but Diggs and Casal are superb in this movie and I would love to see them do another film.
- Daveed Diggs (Collin) - He is the protagonist of the movie and Diggs really shows what a supremely talented actor he is. The character arch that he is able to portray is amazing as we see Collin change over such a short period of time. You can see the change in character just from his facial expressions and there are many close up shots that show this. He has that rare quality where he is able to convey his feelings without saying any words. His mental state and how he wrestles with himself is one of Collin's hurdles that he does his best to keep control of. There is one scene in this movie that has become one of my favourite scenes ever. The acting from Daveed Diggs, in this scene, kept me glued to the screen and each word that he expresses forced me to listen intently.
- Rafael Casal (Miles) - Miles, at face value, should be a character that we do not like, but Casal compels us to have empathy for him and we enjoy his humour. Miles is loyal to everyone but he does really stupid things. He tries to emulate black culture even though he is a white man. But he knows his boundaries and that is explained in a completely captivating scene. He's such a complex character, as through him and Collin, the film explores race relations and cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is a very complex topic and it isn’t really explored in cinema. However, Blindspotting poses the question of what are the limits of cultural appropriation. The film never truly shows Miles as being part of black culture, even though his identity, friendship group and family, which he is surrounded by, are part of it. It shows that no matter how much Miles can have a reverence or love for this culture, the historical significance of discrimination against black people means he would always remain an outsider, and at his core, Miles knows this also. I think Casal finds this balance superbly to portray this really complex character.
"Why's he drinking out of your dinosaur mug you made when you were in 5th grade?"
Negatives of 'Blindspotting'
I absolutely love this film, so I have found it very difficult to critique it. Although there are some negatives I could mention.
- Tone - I found there to be a few tone problems in Blindspotting. The humour doesn’t always flow well with the severity of some of the scenes, which can feel a little odd. It doesn't happen often and in a film full of serious themes, I was surprised it didn't fall into doing this more. As it is a comedy-drama movie, some scenes which use humour could feel a little out of place. But for the most part the tone is on point.
- Characters - With only a short run time, I would have liked some of the secondary characters to be fleshed out a little more. Some extra scenes with the secondary characters could have proved beneficial. I would have liked characters such as Valerie and Ashley, who are the love interests of Collin and Miles, to have been seen a little more in the movie. Although this is a real minor point in an amazing film.
"When you look at me now... do you always see the fight first?"
I am almost annoyed that it has taken me this long to watch Blindspotting; this shows how little marketing it received. If it was up to me, I would be re-releasing this movie worldwide because it is so relevant to issues right now. It has a feel of a movie that is not going to be appreciated in its own time and it's going to take a while for people to see its true quality. I genuinely believe this film will become a cult classic in years to come. Films are just not made like this anymore, it's so well written and it blends such serious themes perfectly without diminishing the severity of these issues. It tackles issues that are not really explored in cinema and I really commend how it does this. The acting to the direction is just sublime and it's fast becoming one of my favourite movies I have watched. I urge everyone to watch this film because it really provides a realistic depiction of what people black people have to deal with and go through. This film is funny, witty, thought provoking and beautifully made, I cannot recommend this film enough.