Last Saturday night my best friend and I were trying to decide what movie to see on Sunday morning, the strong contenders were Blindspotting (my choice) and Sorry To Bother You (her choice). It was after four games of rock, paper, scissors (four, because she cheated once) that I finally won. So on Sunday morning at 10:45AM we sat in a theatre in Los Angeles and let me just tell you, we were completely unprepared for the cinematic journey we were about to experience.
“A love letter to Oakland” is what this film is most described as, and though yes, the film is a passionate and personal love letter to Oakland; it’s also so much more than that. Blindspotting follows Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal), who are childhood friends, on what is Collin’s last three days on probation. During those last three days Collin happens to witness a police shooting of an unarmed man and we experience his journey of dealing with that fact and what that does within his relationship with Miles. I watched this film while on the edge of my seat the entire time, the anxiety that came from waiting to see if Collin went back to prison, was such an exhaustingly-necessary experience.
This film is poignant, it will serve as a catalyst for conversations that need to be had and it has beautifully interjected comedy in a film that serves as a vessel for uncomfortable but much needed conversations. Though the film has been in the process of getting made for 10 years, it feels like it’s arrived at the perfect time. The discussion of gentrification and the ever-changing Oakland is a running-theme and having lived in South LA, is an experience I am way too fond of. Blindspotting carries its heart on its sleeve and with Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal at the forefront, the passion and dedication shines through the screen immediately.
A short(ish) back story: when I was an angsty and over-sensitive teenager, I discovered poetry. This angsty Julie obsessed over spoken word performances every night until the early hours of the morning, it was during one of these long nights that I happened to discovered Rafael Casal. I fell in love with his words, I obsessed over his cadence, I studied his metaphors, I attempted to imitate his flow (and consistently failed) and now 28-year-old Julie has fallen in love with his words all over again. You see, not only did Rafael and Daveed Diggs star in Blindspotting, they also wrote it and their imprint is within every second of this film. They use heightened verse in a way that I haven’t seen being used in a film before. You see, before film and music, my love was poetry; I poured my heart out on stacks of paper that never amounted to anything worthy of speaking out loud but I tried and I tried and it helped heal all of the broken pieces. I also used other people’s words to fix the things I couldn’t quite get to; Rafael Casal, Sarah Kay, Rudy Francisco, Sierra De Mulder, Andrea Gibson, the list is endless. So the fact that Rafael and Daveed used this unique and extraordinary tool as a form of story-telling in the film is what made the goosebumps appear consistently throughout the film.
So yes, I saw this film almost a week ago and I am barely writing about it now because it’s taken me this long to convince myself to jot these words down. The thing is, I felt like this film was too big for me; the discussions too important, the message too real and it felt overwhelming to try to put into words what this film made me feel and then Julian passed away. My best friend from High School was now gone and suddenly my favorite part of the film is what I needed to discuss the most. Miles and Collin’s relationship was familiar, the chemistry was undeniable and their repertoire felt like déjà vu. This is the part of the film that had me getting comfortable in my seat, the banter between Miles and Collin, their backstory that didn’t need to be explained in detail, the complicated yet loving relationship; I finally saw a friendship that perfectly captured my most important (and unfortunately gone) friendship. Not only was the love within the Miles and Collin relationship what I appreciated the most but with Miles being a sometimes-reckless-and-often-forgetting-that-actions-have-consequences kind of human and Collin attempting to stay on the straight and narrow; this was a hurdle Julian and I had to constantly jump over.
This film is necessary.
While I understand that I haven’t actually explained much of the film (I’ve never considered myself much of a movie critic, plus I run the risk of spoiling, when this film should really be experienced first-hand), I hope that if you ever listen to anything I say I hope it is this: watch Blindspotting as soon as you can.
This film is the best movie of 2018, I said what I said. I can’t wait to see what Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs do next.
Blindspotting is officially out NATIONWIDE! So get out there and make your life a little bit better for 97 minutes (give or take).