Daveed Diggs, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of Hamilton, and his childhood friend Rafael Casal delve deep into the racial tensions in America in the inventive opus Blindspotting. Developing a script they penned in the mid-2000s and playing the film’s two leads themselves, Diggs and Casal draw on their own experiences of life in Oakland, California to inform an accomplished and brilliantly layered comedy-drama.
Blindspotting follows Collin Hodgkins (Diggs), a convicted felon who’s just three days of probation away from being a completely free man. Steering clear of past pitfalls, Collin tries desperately to stick to the straight and narrow. He lives in a world that has painted him as a criminal for life and treats every step he takes with suspicion. It doesn’t help, either, that his childhood friend Miles (Casal) is always keen to pull him back into trouble. After witnessing a fatal police shooting, Collin begins to question his race, his identity, and his relationship with Miles.
With parallels to the early work of Spike Lee and John Singleton, Blindspotting brings fears and rage from the real world and infuses them into this cinematic one. Diggs uses his skills as an actor and writer to explore the impact of a police shooting and the intense fear that would envelop a young black man who witnesses it. The performance and writing feels deeply personal, which makes the drama more visceral. Diggs’s relationship with Casal also sparkles on the screen. They’ve been friends for years, and it shows: their bond energises the relationship between the film’s leads, who bounce along with chemistry and humour.
The snappy script fleshes out a fractured soul, in a fractured city, in a fractured country. Writer duo Diggs and Casal inject moments of rap throughout the film, which serve either as fun interludes to underline their characters’ relationship, or as a way of highlighting the issues portrayed in more serious scenes. This technique adds a fresh and realistic beat and keeps the movie flowing with energy. Director Carlos López Estrada, making his feature film debut, manages it all impeccably, shifting deftly between humour and intense drama.
With a naturalism that beats with the agony of black America, Blindspotting is a searing, must-see debut.
Blindspotting is in cinemas from Friday 5 OctoberFind your local cinema and book now