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Blindspotting Review

3 Aug

This is bold filmmaking that bites off a bit more than it can chew, but I’ll take that any day over a failure to engage with the subject matter. The subject matter in this case is Oakland, Oakland in all its gleeful highs and terrifying lows. Diggs and Casal take a culture first rather than issue first approach to the script, letting hot button topics like police brutality and gentrification serve as sobering truths of everyday life rather than as the frameworks of the story.

This does lead to some tonal imbalances throughout, and the film sometimes does feel like it’s spinning in circles. However, it’s ultimately an effective approach because the vibrancy of the culture is the focus. Comedy lives alongside fear and death, just as it does in real life. Art and passion not only help us cope with the harsh realities of life, but also help us express ourselves and connect to others. Even when that art comes from a dark place, as it does in the film in the form of blistering spoken word, it’s a form of humanity that we absolutely need right now.

Casal is great, and one of the film’s most intriguing aspects is its exploration of his character’s whiteness. Diggs is phenomenal. Manages to find a perfect balance between laidback and tightly wound, all leading up to a stunning explosion at the end. It’ll be divisive, but I think it works.

GRADE: B

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