BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman ★★★½

The film is told with remarkable power and a crisp sense of deliberate messaging. The performances are strong and the script is propulsive. Spike Lee has never been known for the subtlety of his film's statements and this is certainly no exception.

Ron Stallwarth is an undercover detective with Chicago Springs PD who manages to infiltrate the KKK with the help of his partner. Ron is black and his partner Phillip is Jewish. The film delivers as much suspense — and as much political commentary — as you’d expect from such a premise.

The film craft at work here is some of Lee’s finest. It is sharply edited and highly compelling. The assaultive language and attitudes of the klan members is pretty oppressive (but again, this is the KKK we’re talking about) and there is likely to be a wide spectrum of differing reactions to film’s final moments, but I found it to be a provocative story and an effective indictment of the entrenched racism that still thrives in ways we’d love to pretend it didn’t.

As for that ending, the film spoke to me greatly about denial and deceit. The infiltration occurred because of the deception of the officers. The KKK members won’t say the name out loud (they call it The Organization). And there are still an alarming number of people who live in entrenched denial of the toxic and evil perspectives of superior and inferior races. So for the film to end with an in-your-face statement that there can no longer be any honest denial, it definitely broke the conceit of a narrative film (by somewhat undermining even the efforts of suspension of disbelief), but I honestly feel it was a fitting and appropriate declaration, even though it abandoned narrative metaphor for direct statement.