Director Carlos López Estrada brings forth this deep-cutting, gut-wrenching, socially-convicting, yet heartfelt, side-splittingly hilarious, and charming narrative about two best friends in inner-city Oakland who have known each other for their entire lives. Collin (Daveed Diggs) and Miles (Rafael Casal) come from similar backgrounds, upbringings, and cultures; yet, there is one significant difference separating them: the color of their skin.
Collin is an African-American man who has experienced firsthand the injustices of racial discrimination and alienation. Struggling to put his life back together after a year on parole for an assault charge, his race and its associated societal perceptions do not make this task any easier. On the other hand, Miles is a Caucasian, who has been shielded from certain judgments and afflictions based on his status as a white man.
This film is fiercely realistic and unapologetically outspoken in its commentaries on relevant social issues ranging from police brutality, to racial profiling and expectations based on ethnicity, to the tragic contrast of children’s innocence compared to the merciless world around them. Perhaps what made this story feel so personal and deeply impactful is the fact that Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal wrote the screenplay for this film, basing it off their real-life experiences as best friends. It was the truest, most intimate and exclusive portrayal of their friendship, showcasing its highest of mountains and lowest of valleys.
Further complimenting the flow of this tale was Robby Baumgartner’s awe-inspiring cinematography. The shot-selection incorporated directly engrossed the viewer into the story. There were multiple long, one-take scenes that featured Collin and Miles slowly walking toward the camera, carrying on with their daily lives and conversations. This created a smooth connectivity between the characters and the audience. In other more frantic scenes, showcasing some of the harsh events that had taken place in their lives, the camera movements were much more unstable and insecure, representing the tone and emotions of the on-screen actions.
The absolute top-notch editing from Gabriel Fleming was perhaps the film’s most impressive technical achievement. The opening montage of the film flawlessly sets the pace for the unique combination of attitudes and expressions throughout the rest of the narrative. This comes with exceptional representations of racial, social, and economic symbolism, ranging from clearly discernible and straightforward, to profoundly subtle and complex.
Looking to the music, Michael Yezerski’s score was effective in further progressing the film’s tone, paired with the rap/hip-hop centered soundtrack. The sound mixing and sound editing teams perfectly blended the music into the narrative, ensuring its notable impact on the final result of the film.
The production design (Tom Hammock), set decoration (Alex Brandenburg), costume design (Emily Batson), and the hair/makeup crew all served their purpose in bringing to life the Oakland, California scene (assisted by the fact that it was filmed on location). Art director Susan Alegria produced a distinguished aesthetic, with a very wide spectrum on the color palette, and diverse lighting styles.
There were so many individual details that went into the final product of “Blindspotting,” from the obvious aspects such as the dynamic story beats, to the lesser-known, behind-the-scenes elements such as set design. In the end, everything harmonized masterfully to result in an admirable work of cinematic art. “Blindspotting” earns my stamp of approval.