HAMILTON’s Daveed Diggs Stars/Co-Writes/Blasts Off
The 2018 edition of the SXSW Conference and Festivals is here, and the Cinapse team is on the ground, covering all things film.
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With energy and style to spare, life long friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-write and co-star in Blindspotting from first time feature film director Carlos Lopez Estrada. Coming out swinging, Estrada’s music video background shines with a relentless energy and verve that never overstays its welcome but rather belies the boundless energy and dynamism of our leads. A love letter to Oakland, California from the very first frames, we get to see the current issues of a city (and yes, a nation) through the misadventures of two friends and Oakland natives. Collin (Diggs) is three days away from finishing his probation, and Miles (Casal) is trying to raise a young son. Together they work for a moving company and generally cruise Oakland making observations about the creeping gentrification all around them.
Then Collin witnesses the police shooting of a young, unarmed black man.
And yes, the film is about that incident. But it really is about these two men and the town around them that’s shaped them and is changing and leaving them behind. Did I mentioned that it’s also gut bustlingly hilarious? Because it is. In the long history of energetic films mixing up heavy drama and stylistic humor, Blindspotting has much in common with something like Do The Right Thing.
Collin and Miles are a charming duo, to be sure. It’s important to note that Miles is white, and Collin black. This distinction matters very little to the two of them, but as we learn more about their dynamic, their circumstances, and their past, the wider reality of their race becomes central to the unfolding narrative of Blindspotting. Not exactly subtle, the film comments overtly about gentrification, police violence against minorities, and white priviledge. It swings for the fences and offers visuals and spelled out concepts that are sometimes on the nose, but presented with such blood-pumping energy and flare that it really, really works.
Diggs calls on his Hamilton roots and brings enough freestyling to Blindspotting that the film flirts with being a musical. Sometimes the rhyming is incidental or used for comedic effect. Other times the lyricism becomes central to the plot and unleashes such raw power that I had to wipe tears from my eyes.
With the vibrancy and kineticism similar to the recent Dope, but a simmering righteous anger evoking a young Spike Lee, Blindspotting is among the very best that SXSW 2018 has had to offer and is primed to unleash hell on the American public when it drops in theaters.
And I’m Out.