Rob Reviews "Blindspotting"
I know I tend to say this every year, but 2018 has been jam packed with great films. Each year, my ranking of films within a year gets tougher and tougher, and this is no exception. Come December, I may have to expand my list that we do on our show just to get all of the great stuff in, and that includes first-time feature director Carlos Lopez Estrada’s “Blindspotting”.
Written by and starring real-life best friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, this is the story of Collin (Diggs) during his last few days of probation after serving a jail sentence. He is doing his best to stay on the straight-and-narrow as he lives in a halfway house and works with his best friend since childhood in Miles (Casal) at a moving company. They are both just trying to survive in Oakland while supporting themselves, dealing with family life, and keeping relationships on track. While on the way home one night to make curfew, Collin gets stuck at a red light and ends up being a witness to an officer-related shooting of an African-American man which complicates his mental state as he tries to finish the home stretch of his debt to society.
This film is nothing short of outstanding, with its two leads carrying their script to a place of realism unmatched by original scripting in quite some time. There will be those who will compare this to films like “Friday,” and I will admit that even I can see those parallels, but this has a bit darker of a heart to it. There are quite a few light moments, but those also make the intense ones that much heavier. There are also great performances here by Jasmine Cephas Jones as Ashley, the mother of Miles’ son and also his moral compass as well as Janina Gavankar as Val, the front desk attendant at their work who is also the ex of Collin, which creates a different dynamic while complimenting the main story very well. As their friendship is tested the longer the film goes, both Diggs and Casal’s familiarity with each other shines through as they feed each other while feeding off of each other. There are even a couple of cameos by Tisha Campbell-Martin and Wayne Knight that although may be a bit of a throwaway give a nice breath of fresh air in between the two men’s escapades. The characters also take some of their dialogue into hip-hop lyrics, which culminates as the story builds and makes the climax infinitely more intense.
“Blindspotting” is one of those films that worked its way through the film festival circuit to get the distribution it deserves, and I hope that the buzz keeps the momentum going for it to be seen by as wide of an audience as possible. While this is not for the whole family due to some serious adult material, it is worth it for those suitable for it.