Comedy-drama Blindspotting is a slow burning thriller, and a timely discussion in a period of increasing police brutality and innocent deaths of young black males in America.
Written, produced and starring US rapper-actor Daveed Diggs and American poet Rafael Casal, the film shows rising gentrification and race relations in Oakland, California. Collin (Diggs) is a parolee with only three days until his probation is over. He spends time moving furniture with best friend Miles (Casal) and the duo have good onscreen chemistry, feeding off each other’s rap free verse, reflecting their close friendship off-screen. It is during the end of one moving shift that Collin witnesses an innocent young black man shot dead by a white police officer.
As the title suggests – with a too-neat explanation provided by Collin’s ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar) – “blindspotting” is to instinctively assume something when observing without a thought of a possible alternative. In this case, Collins is a good citizen, attempting to complete his probation without trouble, while Miles is the white man who is caught up in fights and dangerous situations he could have easily avoided. We see the way in which society’s inherent prejudice is played out on black and white individuals, where frequent harsh punishments are dealt based on a person’s race. Collins’s darkly funny comment reveals how more problems would arise if he chose to report the shooting, remarking, “Hello, police, I’d like to report a murder you did”.
On the whole, the feature feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be funny and shocking, with predictable plot progressions and revelations. With other punchier and – let’s face it – better films in recent years like Get Out, with its unique take on horror combined with commentary on racism, Blindspotting fails to stand out; it doesn’t help either that the movie seems to have clearly stolen a scene from Get Out.
The final section where Collins confronts the guilty policeman is upsetting and tense – Diggs gives a great rap performance on race relations – but the ending is predictable, again tied up too neatly. A good attempt at a first feature film by Diggs and Casal, but, ultimately, Blindspotting doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
Blindspotting is released nationwide on 5th October 2018.
Watch the trailer for Blindspotting here: