Blindspotting is an artistic response to the Black Lives Matter movement, gentrification, identity and self-reflection in the USA. Daveed Diggs and Rafeal Casal’s chemistry plays well with the contrast of the main subject matter.
I went into the movie not expecting a lot, firstly I have only ever seen Daveed Diggs guest star in cult tv series Blackish as Dr Johnson’s easy-going younger brother. Rafeal I’ve never heard of- please do not throw stones at me- that said his performance far exceeded my non-existent expectations. The film took over a decade to make and the fruits of this passion cascade over the big screen through impeccable directing, cinematography, soundtrack, plotting and performance.
Collin (played by Diggs) is on probation and living in a building for convicted felons. Three days remain to the end of his probation and the film details these last three intense days, revealing the story behind Collin’s conviction and the unravelling of his friendship with Miles (played by Casal).
The exposition of an interracial friendship between two men in low paying jobs, one a responsible but convicted felon and the other a firecracker who at first comes across as trying too hard be black, at first annoyed me because the story of white privilege not only in the economy but in the courts is one that does not require much of an imagination. That said once settled into the film you realise that these are two brothers with intertwined identities that make it difficult to exist in a world that sees everything as either black or white. For example, their neighbourhood is threatened by the gentrification of their favourite fast food outlet which sells vegan burgers and rich white people buying houses to flip.
Collin and Miles are childhood friends, this is why Collin is not perturbed by Miles sometimes erratic behaviour. Miles is a whiteboy who is loud, has a neck tattoo and a golden grill. Collin is a natural brother with his long hair and full beard, and is more reserved than Miles. Collin is the one who ends up in jail for a crime in which Miles is complicit. Miles loves Collin so much he literally has a child that looks like him- his girlfriend is black.
The critical points of the movie are Collin witnessing a white policeman shoot a black man dead on his third last day of probation and Miles buying a gun knowing very well that Collin is under probation and should not be around guns. Not only does Miles unnecessarily buy a gun but he fires it off at a very white LinkedIn house party when a black man interrogates his identity, this is further exacerbated by a white man who compounds this interrogation. Collin being the responsible person, stops the chaos and takes the gun for safe keeping. This is where I have a problem, Collin has lost his girlfriend, freedom, time, good reputation and his place in his mother’s house because of his time spent in jail. Collin always puts Miles first, valuing the friendship above his freedom. It is only when Miles and his family are threatened by his actions that he accounts for his behaviour. This is the only blindspot in the film for me. The unspoken loyalty to white friends who will never face the same repercussions for the same behaviours as their black friends.
I also felt some scenes were too on the nose and some felt like a Kanye West music video- before he fell into the sunken place.
The confrontation scene with the policeman was unbelieavable and I do not mean it in a good way- surely this scene could have been written better, it’s a film not a music video.
Otherwise it’s a well-directed film; tense, funny and relevant to the times. Well worth the watch on the big screen.