RELEASED: 5th October 2018
DIRECTOR: Carlos López Estrada
CAST: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Ethan Embry, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Wayne Knight, Kevin Carroll and Lance Cameron Holloway
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $4.9m
Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles, work as movers and are forced to watch their old neighbourhood become a trendy spot in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. When a life-altering event causes Collin to miss his mandatory curfew, the two men struggle to maintain their friendship as the changing social landscape exposes their differences.
And finally we come to the number one choice, my favourite film of the decade. Since watching it at the Foyle Film Festival back in 2018, I’ve lost count already the amount of times that I’ve watched this film and have shown it to others. Based on a screenplay written by co-leads Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, which they took nearly a decade to development this project, Blindspotting also has Carlos López Estrada making his directorial feature debut behind the lens. Set in Oakland, we follow Collin Hoskins, a convicted felon who only has a few days left on his probation and he works alongside his best friend Miles for a moving company. One night whilst waiting at a crossroads, waiting for the traffic light to go green, he witnesses a white police officer shot and kill a black civilian. Afraid to speak out about the shooting due to the fact that it happened past his curfew, Colin begins to have nightmares and even begin to experience hallucinations, leading him to re-evaluate his choices moving forward, as well as his relationship with Miles. The film does a tremendous portrayal of highlighting an individual suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, which Collin does after witnessing the shooting, showcasing how at any turn or how good they feel, one visual of a police care or even simply just going on his morning run, he can mentally be immediately transported back to that incident and keep replaying over and over again in his head. Though that moment lingers over the course of the films, mainly the film follows Collin and Miles going about their work, their interactions with family and friends as the city of Oakland changes around them from they grew up in, due to gentrification. Though at least Collin’s mother is embracing the changing scenery around here as the food is actually getting good, we see the disadvantages of gentrification through an abandoned house that Colin and Miles have to read out, finding family albums in the process, as well as helping a photographer move his framed photograph collection of the ‘faces of Oakland’, and taking some history of Oakland with him in the process. The two main characters are engaging to follow throughout and while Collin is going through PTSD, Miles on the other hand is seemingly going through an identity crisis. With new people moving into Oakland and claiming it as their own, and some coming into the area that might as well have ‘hipster’ stamped on their forehead, Miles sees this as the biggest threat to his identity of being a local, with more people moving into the area that look like him, he’ll be labelled as one of them. Which, infact, does happen in one particular scene in the film where he’s mistaken for being a ‘culture vulture’, being told that he doesn’t need to ‘act black’ to live in Oakland, resulting in a violent confrontation and Miles being tipped over the edge when one of the new residents of Oakland tells him to ‘get out’. While we see Colin is the more calm of the two and looking to avoid trouble at all costs, we see this recklessness from Miles and what becomes really the heart of the film is their friendship, their social and personal issues with each other. For all the craziness we see Miles do, his privilege seems to always bail him out while Collin is the one that does the time, even though Miles was involved as well. It’s a friendship that I think some aren’t going to openly admit that they have or had before, that you will always have that one friend who is reckless and get you into trouble, but on the other hand if you’re back is against the wall in a certain situation, they will always have your back. We also see how Miles lives with his own family, his wife Ashley and their son Sean, while Collin attempts to rekindle with his old flame Val. We’re left pondering for a while as to why Collin ended up in prison but it’s executed in a way that’s very dramatic but presented in a comedic manor and because of this, we see why Val is hesitant to get back with Collin. The film is confidently directed by Carlos López Estrada, particularly in how he constructs sequences such as the altercation that led to Collin going to prison, as well as the climatic finale. The cinematography from Robby Baumgartner is also excellent here, from how he captures the neon lighting in the uber scene minutes into the film, to Collin’s nightmare sequences and that hallucination scene at the graveyard is very effectively done. Daveed Diggs gives a terrific performance as Collin, a man on the brink of freedom followed by a mental breakdown as he projects the persona of keeping cool whilst within he’s being tortured over witnessing the shooting, while Rafael Casal is also excellent as the charming, cheeky and, at times, menacing Miles. Jasmine Cephas Jones is also great as Ashley (and I can’t wait to see her lead the upcoming Blindspotting television series) and Janina Gavankar also gives a great performance as Val. The screenplay from Diggs and Casal is wonderfully written, balancing the drama with the comedy, as well as having the film serve as a love letter to Oakland.
FAVOURITE SCENE: As terrific as the final act scene in the basement is, it’s probably the confrontation between Colin and Miles after fleeing a house party, where their friendship is called into question, especially as Colin asks ‘Why is it okay for me to call you N***a?’
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I didn’t mean to.
Are you sure?.” – Officer Molina and Miles
DID YOU KNOW: In Patrick’s house, Miles is boxing up two portraits and Patrick says, “Dountes and Santiago can’t be facing each other, they do not get along”. The portraits are of Daveed’s father (Dountes) and Rafael’s father (Santiago).