More Than Halfway Home: 'Blindspotting' Review
Collin Hoskins is about to end his time as a parolee and a halfway house resident in the movie Blindspotting. Collin (Daveed Diggs) once worked as a bouncer at an Oakland bar along with his longtime friend Miles (Rafael Casal). An incident with a drunken bar patron taking his drink outside erupts into a fight that sends that customer to the hospital. While Miles gets off lightly, Collin spends a stretch in jail, followed by his forced year-long residence with others on parole. He lives there under strict rules, including a curfew and a prohibition on leaving the county. He also has to maintain a steady job, which he does as a co-worker of Miles at a local moving company. While on the job, Collin grows close to Val (Janina Gavankar), the company's scheduling coordinator. He even plans to move into his mother's apartment, even though she now cares for a young boy under her roof.
Trouble makes its presence known, even as Collin does whatever he can to avoid it. On his way home, he sees a young man run in front of his van, followed by police. As other officers motion for him to leave, Collin sees Officer Molina (Ethan Embry) draw his weapon on the fleeing man, fatally wounding him. In his free time, Collin spends a lot of time with Miles, who draws Collin into encounters with others that could send him back to jail. In fact, Miles buys a gun from one of these acquaintances. That causes problems for Miles when his son finds it and plays with it. Miles's girlfriend Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) orders Miles to remove the gun from the home, and Collin helps him get rid of it. While they maintain a friendship, Collin gives thought to distancing himself from Miles. While he compartmentalizes the shooting on the job and with others, Collin gets put to an emotional test with one moving job.
Blindspotting is an absorbing look at life in a dangerous area, and was written by its stars, Diggs and Casal. They show a couple of men with plenty of incentive to lead productive lives, in spite of negative perceptions by police and others. I wanted Collin to succeed at his all decisions he makes as he stands on the verge of a milestone. Everybody at work knows Collin likes Val, and the two support each other as they try and advance themselves. Collin doesn't focus on the fairness aspect of his incarceration and parole, but on trying to learn from these experiences. Blindspotting is a film that will draw comparisons to the 2013 movie, Fruitvale Station, which is based on a real life incident in the same area. The movie marks the feature debut of Carlos Lopez Estrada, who shows the good and bad of a community where both good and bad can have a strong pull on any resident.
The collaborators have a great buddy chemistry through good and bad as they make their starring debuts. Diggs is the better known of the pair, thanks to his TV work on Black-ish, The Get Down, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. As Collin, Diggs tries to regain control of his life, paying an inordinate price for the actions that gave him a crininal record. He also has a funny scene where he has to style his hair to prove that some curling irons that he and Miles wish to sell cheaply work. Casal, as Miles, pushes Collin's buttons in a way Collin wishes he wouldn't push them. Miles talks loud and acts macho while Collin prefers to be reserved. On the other hand, Miles and Collin do have a partnership when it comes to selling things they get for free, such as a good sailboat they cleared from the estate of a couple who had died. It is he who visited Collin in jail while Val avoided going. Wayne Knight of Seinfeld fame has a cameo as an art gallery owner who gives Collin and Miles advice during a move he requested. Tisha Campbell-Martin also has a funny cameo as a beauty shop owner suspicious of Miles and Collin's sales pitch.
The title Blindspotting refers to a number of points in the movie. One is an optical illusion of an image where people have to immediately say what they see first - two faces or a goblet. Another refers to the bad - and potentially destructive - traits that Miles exhibits as he knows Collin awaits the resumption of a normal life. A third is the often unfounded perception that people in the place where these characters call home are up to no good. Blindspotting takes a look at both sides as it shows the reality is quite different from the perception. Any mistake by someone could lead to an unwarranted repercussion.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Blindspotting 3.5 stars. What do you see, and what's in your blind spot?
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