Blindspotting is the debut directorial feature from Carlos Lopez Estrada and stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who also co-wrote the film together. We’re initially introduced to Collin (Diggs), a parolee on the final three days of probation and someone who needs to stay clear of trouble but his mate Miles (Casal) is unpredictable and hot-headed, so he’s doing everything he can to step back from situations he shouldn’t be involved in.
In the opening sequence, he’s sat in a car with Miles (Casal) and another friend, there’s a car full of guns but Collin wants no part of whatever deal is going down. However, this isn’t your usual film in any sense, it’s smart and this early scene offers an instant indication of what to expect. It’s crammed with humour and a subtle underlying tension but, more than anything, it sparks with clever lines and chemistry between the cast.
Our two leads also work together in the day for a moving company, one night Collin is driving the van home along and he witnesses a white cop shooting a unarmed black man, full of fright and well aware he’s in the last few days of his parole, he’s simply waved on by the Police but, also, decides not to report the truth of what he’s seen. From this shattering relevant act, one that shocks, the relationship between the two men starts to be tested and over time, Blindspotting will see Collin and Miles on a collision course in this thought-provoking film that’s full of drive, flair and humour.
For me, the film is packed with situations that aren’t always what they seem, showing the surface level of what we think we know. When you couple it with exceptional editing and direction, we’re drip- fed parts of the wider story very gradually and cleverly. There are comments on the gentrification of Oakland, something we’ve seen in London and other major cities in the world as well I’m sure, and loss of individual identity. It raises discussion over the differences that still exist between black and white communities, mistrusted policing, mistaken assumptions and changing cultures and it’s achieved with true reflection and significant social commentary.
Carlos Lopez Estrada’s debut holds the influences of some major cult classic movies to, the burger joint ‘KwikWay’ sequence has the essence of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs and Kevin Smith’s Clerks, its normal people having normal conversations which feel modern and entertaining, always with a slight edge of the unknown. There’s a dream sequence that has a huge impact, as Collin considers both all the consequences of his action and non-action, brutal truths and poignant reflection come through in scenes with a hard-hitting impression.
And then the finale of Blindspotting is what makes everything before all come together, where Digg’s Collin, in an extremely explosive situation, gives a Shakespearean-like rap full of potency and importance. This powerful moment delivers us a soliloquy to the future and the now; it’s full of ferocity with every anguished intention and important reality embedded deep in his words. Fuelled by being both scared and frustrated with the situation in front of him, and I’d be sure the moment and feelings are echoed across the world and communities.
Expertly edited and filmed. Snappy and refreshing, Blindspotting is a real lo-fi indie hit. Naturally funny with dramatic, honest undertones, this is what all original, essential film-making should be about.