‘Blindspotting’ – 21st Century response to, ‘Do the Right Thing’

“The image is fundamentally ambiguous. People perceive a vase, or faces. But not both at the same time … What did you come up for the double picture one …. Blindspotting … Why? … Becasue it is all about how you can look at something, and there can be another thing there that you aren’t seeing, so you have a blindspot.”

This is one of the more relevant and socially aware films of its year, and of recent times overall. I don’t hesitate to say that it is a solid contender for being the Do the Right Thing of the Westcoast Bayside and the the 21st century. Raw energetic performances, and unique rhythmic script, stylised direction, and quick paced to the point. While it may come off a bit predictable at moments, it’s kinetic plot is an embodiment of not only the living representation of Oakland, California, but of the tightrope racial injustice in the States. Bring up some interesting arguments that some of the other similar films have not, especially with a heavy hand in gentrification and identify for Blacks and Whites. 2018 was quite a tasty bowl for race in film, with the likes of: Blackkklansman, Sorry to Bother You, The Hate You Give, Black Panther, and Blindspotting.


From left to right: Daveed Diggs, Janina Gavankar, director Carlos López Estrada, Jasmine Sephas Jones Rafael Casal.

This diverse film is incredibly well paced, and switches from comedy to drama on a snap. The spoken verse prone script amplifies the crisp and very well lit direction. It has immensely powerful imagery, especially the bar, the party, the argument, and two outrageously spectacular (graveyard, rap) scenes. It presents a argumentative critique in how the United States (and very much the world) have not improved in its self-proclaimed “post-racial” era. The power that hipster culture, artisan vegi drinks, or a vegan burger have within the context of the film speak volumes on the state of affairs. Gentrification plays a key role throughout the diegetic world, as well as accurately mirroring real world struggles and opinions. From something as simple as liqueur stores to overpriced coffee, or the blind loyalty to sports teams and players, the world and it’s characters embody well established societal strife. The fact that the main characters work for a moving company, and are seen moving and driving the truck around for the majority of screentime adds an ironic layer to how change is…moving in. The symbology and motifs throughout the film are just executed so well, whether it be a kid playing around saying, “Don’t shoot don’t shoot“, or a monolgue about eye contact and not always seeing things for what they really are. Right from the opening sequence, the film utilises a splitscreen as it on across the ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Blindspotting places a dual identity theme so smoothly in literal psychological study (Ruben’s Vase) that it just let’s all the conflicting pieces fall together in a sweet sweet way. It’s such a fluidly stylised film that does show at times coming from a predominant music video director, but it really does not take you out of the moment.


I really must say, the dual lead performances from Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal were phenomenal! I’ve only seen the prior from his short appearances in Blackish, and while I know he’s rather known from Hamilton, I do consider this as being his first main feature appearance. As for Casal, the same intro foray commentary, except I’ve never seen or heard of him before. The two were great in their roles, most specifically the extremely magnetic performance that Casal brought to the film. Diggs plays Collin, a Black man trying to stay right and lay low as he serves out his final three days of probation. His Oakland best friend and moving company partner, Miles (Casal) plays a fast talking, quick witted hustler with a very short temper. Its also probably not a coincidence that some people have made joking tags of G-Eazy or Macklemore, which aren’t really accurate. Casal was the standout performance for me, and probably in my top 5 male performances of 2018. And don’t get me wrong, Diggs was extraordinary in his very nuanced performance. The two being nominated for lead and support would not bother me in the slightest, but the Academy has already selected their token racial champion in, Blackkklansman. The two have immediate chemistry in surplus, from their first scene and past the end credits. You genuinely believe that they are the best of childhood friends, and that maybe they’ve gone through similar scenes presented in the film. The fact that the two lead actors also wrote the screenplay further that bond. Might I also add that the supporting cast did terrific yet small jobs, particularly Janina Gavankar and Jasmine Cephas Jones.


Many people say that the city plays a key character in certain films, and this is no exclusion. The very gentrified city of Oakland is with no shred of doubt, a constant presence throughout the plot, and nothing plays out with the context of residing within that specific city. Very similar to how Spike Lee perfectly encapsulated the tones and themes of racial Brooklyn within his best film, Do the Right Thing. So to does feature debut director Carlos López Estrada and the actor-screenwriters create a living representation of the Bayside, surely sprinkled with way more Easter eggs than just Kehlani and George Watsky. Every character feels like their own individual, embodying various perspectives and positions within this very real plot. The direction of the film was electric, you immediately take in the vibe and are absorbed by the direct themes presented to your face and ears.


Blindspotting is a legitimate banger of a film, with a third act that slaps incredibly hard. This is a film that everyone should watch, especially if you live in the States. Regardless of whether you like the acting or the direction, it’s message and themes are starkly poignant and will leave you with some type of emotional response. I go as far to say that this is a mandatory watch were it my syllabus, and quite frankly should be shown to all Ethnic courses.


~ ★★★★½ / 5 ~


Awards Worthy: Lead Actor, Supporting actor, original screenplay.

Quickee Film Time