- Sundance Institute
- “Blindspotting” is a powerful look at a race and class.
- It stands out because of its well done use of comedy, drama, and rap.
The Sundance Film Festival is where movies that challenge the audience get their fair shake, and “Blindspotting,” the debut feature of director Carlos López Estrada, is exactly that.
The movie is a racially-charged powder keg that uses comedy, drama, and rap to give the audience a journey through the complicated lives of two friends living in West Oakland.
Colin (Daveed Diggs) is days away from completing his probation and is trying to stay on the straight-and-narrow. However, his lifelong friend Miles (Rafael Casal) is not the best influence on him as he walks around carrying a gun and always seems to get Colin involved in things that he doesn’t want to do.
The movie’s foundation is built on contrasts. Colin is black and Miles is white. West Oakland has a fan base of rowdy Oakland Raiders fans and stylish Golden State Warrior fans. The city is growing more and more gentrified. Even on the marquee of the local theater it has a unique lineup coming soon: rapper Too Short and rock band Third Eye Blind.
And it’s through these differences that Estrada lays down the struggle Colin is going through in his life. He isn’t just shackled by the label of “convicted felon,” but also the fear of the police – after he witnesses a police officer shooting an unarmed black man running from him. Then there’s his on-again-off-again girlfriend Val (Janina Gavankar), who he’s trying to show he’s changed since getting out of prison but can still see she can’t let go why he was put there. The only comfort is with his best friend Miles, who sports a gold grill and tattoos.
A lot of the movie is a fun buddy comedy with the two dealing with entertaining situations, like an Uber driver with lots of guns, trying to sell hot-irons at a beauty salon, as they navigate through Oakland.
But there’s an unspoken uneasiness about them as well, especially since Colin has gotten out of prison, that finally comes to ahead by the end of the movie. Whenever you think you’ve figured out this movie, something happens that pulls the rug right from you.
The strengths of “Blindspotting” is its commentary on race and class through the use of comedy and use of rapping in two powerful scenes (the movie was written by Diggs and Casal). Where it falls short at times is when it becomes too dramatic. When the message is lost through raw anger.
But perhaps that was Estrada’s intention all along. To give the audience raw emotion because that’s what most of us live through every day.
“Blindspotting” is seeking distribution.