The burden is made real when Collin witnesses a police shooting. Collin won’t even report it for fear of the consequences, but the trauma follows him everywhere, echoing all over him whenever he comes face to face with a cop. The film renders not only the physical but emotional violence of police brutality, and Diggs expresses that beautifully in his performance.
“Blindspotting” tackles another, more insidious kind of cultural, race-based violence too — gentrification. The displacement of generations from their homes, their place, their identity, the loss of cultural markers and rituals — it’s all violence, and it’s the violence Miles suffers the most. It’s the unlawful seizure of his hometown, his identity, by interlopers and posers. Most people look at him and see a gentrifier, while those same people look at Collin and see a thug. That misidentification, that willful blind spot, is what makes both men lash out.
The dialogue has a lyrical flow and bounce, the buddies constantly freestyling (Casal is a champion slam poet and Def Poetry performer, while Diggs demonstrated his skills in a little show called “Hamilton”). “Make it pretty so they like to listen,” Miles tells Collin, and “Blindspotting” follows suit, drawing us in with comedic beats and warm chemistry before laying down harsh truths. The climax tends toward the melodramatic, almost fantastical, and while it’s overwrought, the words spoken are powerful. We’ve all got blind spots — culturally, racially, socially — and “Blindspotting” invites us all to take a long hard look at them.
Starring Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal and Jasmine Cephas Jones. Directed by Carlos López Estrada.
Rated R for language throughout, some brutal violence, sexual references and drug use. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 35 minutes.
Bottom line: Tends toward the melodramatic, but the words are powerful