‘Blindspotting” bustles with the heated social fervor of “Boyz n the Hood” and “Do The Right Thing,” jokes with the buddy antics of “Friday” and “Swingers,” but manages to exist as something whole and unique thanks to sensational performances and visual wizardry of director Carlos Lopez Estrada. It’s the type of movie both completely appropriate to its place and time but accessible outside of it, that if we were to cryogenically freeze writers Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal’s 2018 Oakland and not thaw it for a hundred years, it’s message would still be fluent to future Bay Area denizens.
We follow Collin (Daveed Diggs) attempting to lay low on his last three days of probation. With braids that hang down to his chin, he’s the type of black male that would easily arouse suspicion from police, even though his best bro Miles (Rafael Casal), a grill-wearing, tatted-up white boy, packs far more trouble in his baggy jeans. But while doing a late night drive for his moving company, Collin witnesses an unwarranted shooting of a black male by police in his rear-view mirror. The experience haunts Collin over the next two days, struggling to juggle his moving duties and personal relationships without completely unraveling before his probate is up.
Diggs and Casal give star-turning performances, their characters bursting with anger and empathy in every frame. “Blindspotting” effectively makes its Oakland feel like a real neighborhood, where we almost remember street signs and addresses of the now-gentrified haunts and dives the characters frequent. The film is patient in crafting its message, giving us much needed moments of humor (particularly a hilarious bar fight) while never feeling like its preaching to the choir or the jury.
“Blindspotting” a raw, effective, slice of life movie dense and fluid enough to make us feel like we ate the whole pie. It’s the type of film that is built by contradictions and extremes: The white boy acting ghetto, the black guy with a gun who isn’t a threat, the rich infiltrating this part of the Bay but its residents remaining poor, all held together by the clever, overarching “blindspotting” motif that our brains are conditioned to see what they want to see. Regardless of your familiarity or personal experience with its social themes, the greatness of “Blindspotting” will not evade you.