Carlos Lopez and Daveed Diggs' Blindspotting is the third film this year to explore race and push the boundaries of representation of black people onscreen. The other two films are Black Panther and Sorry to Bother You. All three films are based in Oakland, CA for key moments. Of the three, Blindspotting is the most daring and focused on its desire to give audiences a look into the realities of privilege and race.
Perhaps the film feels the sharpest movie about race in 2018 because it never moves into fantasy. Instead, the film sticks to reality, swinging deftly from powerful drama to comedy with many things in-between. This ambitious storytelling reminded me of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, another film that balanced a multitude of tones but never feels disjointed.
Blindspotting follows Collin just three days from getting off probation from an aggravated assault charge. He is struggling to stay out of trouble while his best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) keeps courting it. His ex Val (Janina Gavankar) keeps urging him to drop Miles but their friendship is the center of the film and Miles cannot simply dismiss their history and shared experience despite that Miles is white and Collin is black. The trio of relationships is dynamic, pulling Collin in two different directions.
One of the sneakiest things about the film is how digressive the plot feels at first but slowly reveals itself to be brilliantly constructed. For a while, the film is hilarious as it explores Collin's world and the gentrification of his neighborhood. And then he witnesses the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. The incident begins to haunt Collin who is already on edge about nearing the end of probation and in seeing his neighborhood go the way of hipsterism.
Diggs is excellent here, constantly showing how this traumatic situation eats away at his soul. It is the kind of performance that should make him a star if his role in Hamilton hadn't already done it. The film climaxes with a searing hip hip monologue that pulls on his stage experience. It is one of the year's best scenes. Casal is equally electric and the two's chemistry pushes the film to some amazing heights.
Blindspotting is one of the year's best film. It is daring, important and vibrant. We likely won't get a more calculated film about race this year. Do not miss this one.