For those of you who are unfamiliar with the name Daveed Diggs, he is an actor and rapper, who has appeared in such films as “Wonder” and “Ferdinand.” And if you’re also unfamiliar with Rafael Casal, he is his longtime friend. These two write, produce, and star in “Blindspotting,” a powerhouse movie that raps out its problems about discrimination, and mixes humor and drama at the right intensity.
Diggs writes himself as Collin, who is finishing up his one-year probation with 11pm as his curfew, a protein beverage as a way to clean himself up, and his hustler friend Miles (Casal) as his co-worker in the moving business. As they rap: “We get f*cking paid to move stuff.”
One night while driving home, he finds a white cop (Ethan Embry) chasing and shooting an African American criminal (Travis Parker) to death, despite him shouting: “Don’t Shoot! Don’t Shoot!!” They have a stare-down so provocative, it’s unforgettable.
Now, Collin feels pressured even harder by the system judging certain African Americans as monsters. In fact, he has a nightmare where Miles testifies against him in rap, while he vomits bullets, and the cop plays the judge. And again, he’s almost done with his probation.
On Miles’ side of the story, he has a lot to offer. He sells Collin’s mother’s (Tisha Campbell-Martin) used hair curlers to a local beauty salon, and a little old sailboat to a pimp in order to get some spare scratch to provide for his wife (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and a little boy (Ziggy Baitinger); picks fights; and buys a gun, which not only threatens Collin’s freedom, but nearly kills his boy. He’s a bad influence on Collin, and yet, they still stick with each other.
With help from director Carlos Lopez Estrada, Diggs and Casal both write “Blindspotting” with challenging ambitions, riveting nightmares, poetic justice, and true stereotypes that rips this nation apart. Discrimination is still happening in this world, and we need to fight it. That’s what this movie does: it breaks the rules, takes risks, and never takes “No” for answer. This movie is fearless.
And aside from the filmmaking, the performances from Diggs and Casal are just profound. They sometimes have to rap out their situations out, but mostly, they give their characters with the kind of ease and emotions that makes them watchable. They even allow their characters to have a sense of humor-not the Kevin Hart humor most people want, but honest humor. And honest humor is what slays my grandfather. But more importantly, their emotions take your breath away.
And never once was I irritated at the choices and directions the movie takes. I was sitting with utter amazement. And in a year of great African American movies (“Black Panther,” “Sorry to Bother You,” etc.), “Blindspotting is another fantastic movie out this year. The minute I saw the last 15 minutes, I knew I loved it.