Looking Back at 2010s Films: Blindspotting (2018)

8 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, there’s a moment in “Blindspotting” when a young black man is walking alone in a risky neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

A cop car seems to be following him. He tenses up. WE tense up because he has a gun. It’s not even his gun–he took it away from his friend before some crazy stuff could go down. But you think once the police find the gun if they stop and question him that he’s going to be able to explain the situation? This man hasn’t done anything wrong, he’s finally off probation, and if he gets caught with this gun, he could end up in jail, or worse. And then…the cop’s light shines on him as he turns around.

It’s a quiet moment but it’s also an extremely terrifying moment because it feels real.

And that’s just one of many memorably chilling moments in “Blindspotting,” one of the underrated films from last year. Like “Do the Right Thing” 30 years ago, “Blindspotting” is a film about race relations that is brutally honest. Intense and sometimes very humorous, but still brutally honest.

The film stars (and was co-written by) Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, longtime friends who came up with the script inspired by their own experiences in the Bay Area. Diggs plays Collin, who is finally done with probation after serving a brief prison sentence after partaking in a fight (how and why the fight came about, I’ll leave for you to discover–it’s hilarious). Casal plays his best friend Miles, a loudmouth who is always looking for trouble–if Collin slips up again, Miles is probably partially responsible. Collin, who’s black, has to reminded time and time again by other people that if the police show up when trouble goes down, they’ll ignore Miles because he’s white but Collin will be the one who’s arrested or shot. He doesn’t want to believe that, nor does he want to believe Miles’ rambling that the neighborhood is being “changed” by “hipsters.” But he’s haunted by his witnessing of an Oakland cop (Ethan Embry) shooting and killing an unarmed black man on the street, which doesn’t raise his confidence either.

Those scenes in which he keeps seeing that cop in his dreams and in his reality let us know how heavy the weight of Collin’s world continues to crush down on him.

But there are other scenes to help lighten the mood, such as when the fight that Collin went to jail for is described in extreme detail by Utkarsh Ambudkar (who I recently saw again in “Brittany Runs a Marathon”)…in what could be described as “Drunk History”-style. (Surprisingly, this was only one of two movies last year that took that comedic storytelling style–the other one was “Ant-Man & The Wasp.”)

‘Blindspotting” is a film with moments of harsh reality and energetic creativity.

I mentioned “Do the Right Thing” before, and it’s hard not to compare these two movies not just in terms of statement but in terms of style. Remember how in “Do the Right Thing,” we had a couple musical moments and a montage of people of different races directing racist insults to the camera? Well, “Blindspotting” has spoken-word raps, sometimes to take place of traditional dialogue. Its payoff is a climactic moment that you’ll have to see to believe–it’ll either work for you or it won’t. It worked for me.

And of course…the Oscars ignored another treasure with this one. Let’s see, did the Indie Spirits look at this one…?

Yep–Daveed Diggs was nominated for Best Male Lead for his brilliant performance.

Check this one out if you haven’t already.

And for the record, I’ve never even bothered to try a bottle of green juice ($10 a bottle?? c’mon), and I don’t plan to either. (Those who’ve already seen the film will get that reference.)

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One Response to “Looking Back at 2010s Films: Blindspotting (2018)”

  1. amanja October 9, 2019 at 5:14 pm #

    This is such an underrated film. I had never even heard of it before I watched it and it left me speechless. There is a scene (no spoilers but you can probably guess which) that scared me and filled me with more dread and tension than any horror movie and when it was over I just started crying from the relief in tension. Thank you for highlighting this great work.

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