Blindspotting (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

From time to time, there are movies that speak to you on a personal level. Maybe it’s the aesthetics, cast, pacing, music, or message the film offers that just clicks with who you are on a spiritual level. Blindspotting (2018) did exactly that for me. Which one of those listed, you ask? All of them. This film, much like I claim about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2009), ticked all of my boxes and left me reeling at the end. It’s so much easier to write a review when you’re passionate about what you saw, but it’s also worthy of note that I’m clearly moved by this film. I don’t want to oversell it and raise expectations to the point that it diminishes other’s experience of it, but know going in this that I will be overly positive.

Blindspotting is amazing!

Collin (Daveed Diggs) is three days away from getting off probation, and he is determined not to do anything to jeopardize his freedom. The film demonstrates it’s comedic elements right away, as Milo (Rafael Casal) sits in a car with a third friend eating fast food. Milo finds a gun, starts waving it around, and Collin just wants out. The scene continues to make one joke after another, which demonstrates the chemistry of Casal and Diggs – who co-wrote this film – and establishes how funny this film is going to get.

While it is listed solely as a comedy on IMDb.com, it needs to be stated now that this film has something important to say. Right after that opening scene that lets Milo rant about the gentrification of Oakland (where the film is set) because of an argument over the vegan patty in his hamburger being the new default rather than a beef patty, Collin witnesses a crime that shakes him to his core. This event becomes the dramatic throughline over the course of the film in such a powerful and impactful way. It’s not clear initially how it will affect the plot, but the moment it is revealed left my jaw dropped and eyes watering.

Diggs and Casal integrate music into this film in an innovative way. On the walk to their moving truck, which is a perk of their day job that Collin’s ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar) got them, they freestyle about their world. It’s casual and just comes across as something they do from time to time. Then the movie pulls that rapping into several scenes that almost feels like a musical when it happens but isn’t treated as some surreal, unexplained event. For example, Milo basically acts as an auctioneer at a few moments in the film trying to hustle some money. Instead of just fast talking, he’s rapping and making his sales pitches. Collin expresses himself through rhymes a few times, but there is one late in the movie that may be one of the most powerful uses of a song to deliver a message in cinema history. The fact that it works within the reality of the film only makes its impact more impressive.

Needless To Say, I’m unbelievably impressed with the cast. Director Carlos López Estrada does a terrific job with his first feature film. It is kinetic with lots of moving shots, quick cuts that reflect Edgar Wright’s tooling up sequences, and some innovative match cuts. His influences can be seen on the screen, but they work and make the story feel alive. There isn’t a dull moment in the film, and when the movie needs to slow down, it does. It’s an impressive first feature, to say the least.

Final thoughts…

Blindspotting is without question a Must See film. It will surely upset some viewers who possibly disagree with or misinterpret the messages in the film. However, it’s so funny, engaging, and poignant that it would be hard to believe anyone could hate it. Disagree with? Possibly. Outright not like it? That would be shocking.

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