Blindspotting isn’t just any film: it’s the nine-year passion project of scriptwriters and stars Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, making it one of the most genuine and heartfelt films of the past decade.
The movie is based in the two actors’ hometown of Oakland, in the US state of California. The plot revolves around (black) convicted felon Collin Hodgkins (Diggs) who is on the last three days of his probation, and his hot-headed (white) best friend Miles (Casal) who cannot seem to stop getting his buddy into trouble.
Things get rough for Collin when he witnesses a police officer gun down a fleeing black suspect while stopped at a red light. The incident haunts him to the point that he starts having nightmares and hallucinating. Meanwhile, he must also deal with Miles’ violent temper, and a complicated relationship with his ex-girlfriend Val (Janina Vanankar), who resents Miles for the role he played in a violent incident that got Collin sent to jail in the first place.
The film is a comedy-drama that touches on some very dark subject matters – including gentrification, racism, and police brutality. Yet somehow the movie manages to be absolutely hilarious while maintaining its serious undertones. This is where the brilliance and authenticity of the film shines through: none of the comedy is forced, nor is it cheap or slapstick. All of the funny scenes are a result of realistic banter between the protagonists and the rest of the cast.
The chemistry and real-life friendship between Casal and Diggs is clear from the onset, and considering how both of their performances are nothing short of spectacular, this film can be seen at as their breakthrough into mainstream cinema. As well as incredible acting skills, the two frequently drop very impressive rap bars throughout the film (Diggs is also the lead vocalist of experimental hip-hop group Clipping). This gives the film a unique charm.
One particularly interesting element is the comparison of the lead characters’ similar, but contrasting struggles. Collin, desperate to try and clean up his act, must deal with the discrimination that comes with being black and a convicted felon. Miles, on the other hand, feels as a white man the constant need to “prove” himself worthy to the black community.
Overall, the movie has everything you could ask for: great acting, a coherent plot, moral dilemmas, hilarious comedy. It really is just a breath of fresh air from what we normally see from mainstream Hollywood. This is the type of film that, if given enough exposure, could really make a difference to the world.