Blindspotting Movie Review

“Blindspotting” is a movie that moves with a rhythm and a rhyme of a hip-hop rave, to the hipsters in the street and the gangsters in the grave, there in a city in rebirth, being reborn, but not without pains, as the losses and gains pile up on the people who whose spirit has left but the flesh remains – worn down by the pressure and how it oppresses, with too many failures with too few successes, when the white and black and rich and poor are seeing only divisions, and not visions of together and futures always better – being all just one city and one family forever.

That concludes the ‘ hip-hop & rap’ portion of this review.

Collin (Daveed Diggs) has grown up with his close friend Miles (Rafael Casal) in the poor side of Oakland. The city has changed so much and Collin and Miles have trouble keeping up. Miles is a little too hot-headed and can easily erupt in anger. Collin has been in trouble with the law and he is a few days from the end of his probation period. If he can get through the next few days, living at a half-way house with very strict rules, Collin with have much of his freedom back. But Miles will always be a threat to Collin, if he happens to be around him at the wrong time.

Collin and Miles both work at a moving company. Collin’s ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar) runs the front desk. They rarely speak of the incident that caused Collin to be arrested a year ago. Miles has a current girlfriend and a little boy. But he thinks that the local neighborhood has gotten so bad that he needs to carry a gun. Parenting Alert: handguns and little boys usually do not mix. Collin is anxious that Miles is holding a weapon, because if he ever gets stopped by the police, there is a guarantee of more jail time.

There is a night when Collin is driving the moving truck back after work, and he is stopped at a light. He needs to be back very soon, because the curfew time is near. But there is a man who runs in front of his truck, and he is black and running into the night. And soon the man is followed by a policeman, and there is an ‘Officer-involved shooting’, right next to Collin. He is afraid to stick around, so he leaves in the truck and tries to forget what happened. But that will be impossible to forget.

Over the course of the next couple of days, Collin tries to reconnect with Val, and he tries to create a distance from Miles. There is the shooting that is still in his mind, and it makes him think that any day might be his last. Color creates differences in the people of the hood. There are new sections that are being renovated, where all the old buildings are now worth so much more. The long-term, old-time residents are being pushed out. Including a photographer named Patrick (Wayne Knight), whom the guys help get packed for a move elsewhere.

Eventually, the incident that caused Collin’s arrest is revealed, and it is handled with an amusing touch. But even later, there is an impromptu meeting between Collin and the Officer (Ethan Embry) – from the ‘Officer-involved shooting’. Collin is beside himself with rage, and there is almost a new ‘incident’. But Collin is able to pull himself back from the brink, and he is able to walk away knowing that he was the better man.

Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal have written a bittersweet love letter to their Oakland home. They have hit on so many themes that it is dizzying to watch. But they wrote the characters that they know, and then also acted out as those real human beings. Their work is impressive, as first-time writers and then playing out the story they know so well. Also Carlos López Estrada has done a splendid job as the first-time director.

Other than a couple of times when the change in tone is little too abrupt, or when the story strays onto the side of farce rather than drama – it sticks to a steady beat of honest daily toil in an indifferent city. Diggs and Casal have captured a good look into a rough life. They could have had a little better inclusion of some normal white guys, though. All of the white characters are either black-culture infused like Miles, or they are Portlandia hipster types, or they are ignorant racist cops.

Opens July 27th in Phoenix theaters contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

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