"Blindspotting" is politically relevant but an ambitious mess [Review]



Written by co-star Rafael Casal and real-life friend Daveed Diggs, Tony award-winner for portraying both Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Broadway’s "Hamilton," "Blindspotting" is a film with so much on its mind, maybe too much, that it threatens to spin out of control and, eventually, it does.

Diggs' Collin is a formerly jailed ex-con with just three days left in his probation. Casal is Miles, his white friend. The both seem inseparable, with Miles always having a harder time staying out of trouble, mostly due to his anger issues. Their trade is furniture moving, in which they see the gentrification happening all over their Oakland hood, and wonder what's next for them? 

Collin is the character in which we see the film's lenses through, and so, the plot thickens when he witnesses a cop shooting an unarmed black man. Collin tries to not get involved since he only has 48 hours left before the dark shadow of his probation is annulled by the courts. Of course, it doesn't help that Miles follows him everywhere he goes and is trouble with a capital T, an unhealthy ticking time-bomb that is a frustratingly unlikable character, even if he is portrayed as flawed, but with good intentions.
With all that being said, we spend the next 48 hours with these two unpredictable Californian men.
"Blindspotting" is filled with passionate intentions, but debuting director Carlos López Estrada doesn't know much about restraint. A film such as this one demands subtlety and patience to tell its story, but the 29 year-old director lacks the cinematic maturity to pull it off. It doesn't help that his characters, especially Miles, are anything but subtle. There's a melodramatic, over-the-top nature here that makes some scenes ring sometimes false. 
Yes, Estrada's anger and passion seeps through every frame, but he loses clarity and focus along the way as well. His film has some powerful moments, filled with frenetic, inspired direction, and an important message, but tonally it feels off, ditto the mix of comedy, drama and musical, Miles and Collin have a few politically charged free-styles, which muddies the film whenever it tries to find narrative momentum. 

Estrada's intentions are admirable as he tries to build up the tension, with every ensuing scene, to make sure that once his film does arrive at its inevitable, palm-sweating finale, the feeling is damn-near intense. Instead, the feeling is that of contrivance rather than any kind of emotional wallop. [C+]