Hot Take: Beyond expectations especially for first time writers and a first time director. Topical and timely. It has a lot to say and knows how to say it.
MoviePass has taken such a beating lately, let me pay it a compliment. One of the greatest features of the product is now I occasionally get to see a movie walking in completely cold. Typically, this happens when a low budget or independent film makes it to the nearby mega-cineplex. Blindspotting which opened to 14 theaters and expanded to 523 in its second week was one of those films. The writing debut of Daveed Diggs (Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton) and Rafael Casal riffs on gentrification, the criminal justice system, police violence and gun control amongst other things. With a charismatic, emotionally charged performance from Diggs in the main role, Blindspotting delivers a multi-faceted, spirited and provocative film that should be seen by the widest audience it can find. It has moments of intensity wrapped around a warm, love-hate relationship with the rapidly evolving Oakland landscape which is experiencing a gentrified rebirth as many inner cities are experiencing in the 21st century.
Ex-con Collin (Diggs) has three days left on his probation. Almost inseparable from childhood friend Miles (Casal), Collin works for a moving company thanks to ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar) who despite their break-up due to what Collin did to get locked up, still cares about him enough to help him get back on track. While Collin is doing everything he can to evolve and move forward with his life while staying out of trouble, Miles continues to act foolish and risk Collin’s freedom by seeking out trouble and embracing his “street” roots. At the very beginning of the film, Collin witnesses a police shooting of a black man running from the cops that haunts him as he attempts to survive the last 72 hours of his life on probation.
Blindspotting has a lot to say about some felicitous issues. It’s a smart, aggressive commentary about inner city life with a rapid fire delivery that once it gets going is relentless in its message. Diggs and Casal are particularly talented and shine playing off each other. Their writing is excellent and along with the excellent directorial debut of Carlos Lopez Estrada, establishes a hypnotic pacing that takes the film to another level. It’s social commentary asks for us to look beyond superficial prejudice and stereotypes and Diggs’ performance is one that will stick with you for a while.
As my own personal experience with Blindspotting benefitted from a lack of information going in, it’s probably a good idea to stop right here. Diggs, 36, and Casal, 32, are likely to build off of their dynamic performances and the 29-year-old Estrada will land more directorial gigs off of his work. While the contemporary nature of the film could cause the film to age poorly, the topics and message are timeless and should hold up over time. If you’re ok with something more than a popcorn flick, Blindspotting is a film you should look for the next time you head out to the cinema.
It’s one of those films that if you don’t see now, you’ll want to see once Diggs, Casal, Estrada or all three become breakout stars.
You think you need ID to buy groceries.