Blindspotting is a challenging film. Not in the sense that its message may get lost in the layers of oblique satire of class and race as in Sorry to Bother You. Nor in the way that Get Out subverted movie watchers’ expectations of film genres and cultural tropes. Instead, Blindspotting challenges viewers on a wholly personal level.
First-time director Carlos Lopez Estrada brings the screenplay written by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal to life in a manner so vividly real that it feels like eavesdropping on a couple of buddies in 2018 Oakland as opposed to something crafted on a film set. This raw authenticity unquestionably stems from the real-life friendship between Diggs and Casal and their natural chemistry benefits from this just as much as the screenplay they spent almost 10 years developing for the big screen. Their ability to play off of each other from scene-to-scene whether rapping, laughing, or fighting pushes each other to acting levels that should have merited nominations for each. Diggs’ performance is the best of 2018 and, not to be outdone, Casal turns in a performance that should have easily taken down supporting actor awards.
Every scene in Blindspotting feels intentional and amasses weight. Whether it comes from moments of laughter or feelings of dread or whether it is heartwarming or infuriating, each scene stacks upon the other until the movie’s combined gravity begins to feel crushing. As though it is going to implode under its own weight. It is in these most intense points that the film challenges the audience. It never comes straight out and tells you what to think. Rather, the film simply unfolds and lets you make assumptions about what you think is going to happen and why. Sometimes the film reaffirms assumptions, but in others, it flips them on you. When it finally does reveal its hand, it forces you to reckon with your reason and bias behind your assumptions.
Blindspotting is the perfect encapsulation of the life and times of 2018. It masterfully captures the culture of this era from gentrification to race relations to Black Lives Matter and is essential viewing for anyone trying to gain perspective on these modern events. It is a poignant generational film that will serve as a snapshot of these times and only grow in its relevance as the years pass.