BlacKkKlansman ★★★★½

It feels inappropriate to judge a piece of political filmmaking by a Black artist in terms of how White people respond to it. No, it's not a stretch to say that good films about race challenge viewers' currently held beliefs, but to suggest that a film can only be affective if it has a particular effect on White audiences is counterproductive. I know for myself that I've unfairly judged Lee's previous work, specifically Do the Right Thing, based on how many White critics have misinterpreted it. Misguided interpretations cannot be conflated with the loud and clear messages a film actually offers.

The tonal shift crept up on me so fast, but it worked perfectly. For a while, these men didn't take the KKK as a credible threat. They were hate-filled and extreme, sure, but there was no deeper understanding of their evil. Even for Stallworth himself, as the only Black officer on the force, there was almost a level of playfulness in how the mission started. Yet in seeing these men up close, seeing the camaraderie amongst them, they become even more terrifying. They aren't just evil villains, but rather, they are men and women with full lives who believe truly despicable things. None of the hatred they spoke felt like lies -- they really meant every slur. The dialogue is so dense with vulgarity that it's initially a shock, but quickly, it becomes just painful to hear.

Beyond the overt and easily identifiable racism of the Klan, the script delves deeper into the race dynamics within the police force, and even within Black activist groups. There's a burden placed upon the oppressed to have to fight for their own rights, while those is positions of privilege sit idle, too complacent in their situation to risk being uncomfortable. BlacKkKlansman gives you an ending that you can't overlook. This terrorist group continues to operate and do harm, and to continuously overlook it as an act of violence itself. The work must continue. This is a remarkable way to say it.

Rating: 83/100

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