Blindspotting ★★★★½

Whew. BLINDSPOTTING is brilliant. A powerful, emotional social commentary on racism, prejudice, gentrification, police brutality, recidivism, and reintegration that is in turns raw, charming, poignant, and incendiary.

Daveed Diggs (of HAMILTON fame) and his childhood best friend Rafael Casal both deliver knockout performances, bolstered by a masterful script that they co-wrote, based on their own friendship growing up together in Oakland. While the characters they play are fictional, the dynamic between them is incredibly real, and watching these two guys who are from the same neighborhood and walk in the same social circles navigate life through two opposing racial lenses is a fascinating and effective juxtaposition.

And even aside from the timeliness and importance of the subject matter, it's just a masterfully written script. While the explicit dialogue may feel a bit jarring to some (most of the R-rating is for language), it flows with a rhythm that feels so natural, you almost forget that someone had to write it. The script also manages to weave in Diggs' prodigious rapping abilities in an organic way that never detracts from the reality of what's unfolding on screen, but rather heightens it, using rap like Shakespearean soliloquies to underscore particularly resonant moments in the narrative.

There's a similar ease to the structure of the film; while the setup, pacing, and plot twists are all meticulously crafted and perfectly executed, it never FEELS mechanical or designed. Some films seem to pride themselves on making the audience aware of the filmmaker's hand throughout; in BLINDSPOTTING, the mastery of the writing passes by practically unnoticed, despite having both of the writers right there on the screen.

This isn't a film that's designed to make anyone comfortable -- the language is rough, the subject matter far rougher -- challenging the audience to confront our own personal biases and preconceived notions. It's a film that asks us to occupy the emotional shoes of people that a large portion of our society would prefer to ignore, and, in doing so, forces us to examine whether the cost of dismissing the humanity of others is to become inhuman ourselves.