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Directed by:Carlos Lopez Estrada
Starring: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar
Rated: R for Language Throughout, Some Brutal Violence, Sexual References and Drug Use
Running Time: 1 h 35 m
TMM Score: 5 stars out of 5
STRENGTHS: Writing, Directing, Acting, Humor, Gritty Feel
A social commentary comedy about two best friends- one black, one white- navigate the streets of Oakland, trying to stay out of trouble for three more days, until the black man gets off probation.
The trailer for this movie caught my attention right away; I thought it looked gritty and unpolished, tense and original, but the trailer is very misleading. This isn’t a tense thriller about running through the ghettos trying to stay alive; this is a story of lasting, true friendships; dealing with circumstances beyond your control; and the difference the color of your skin can make even in today’s day in age. This movie was nothing like I had imagined it would be based on the trailer, it was funny, touching, sad, and ever so poignant and timely. This is easily one of the better films I’ve seen this year, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we hear about this movie about this film during the Oscar season. I’m actually pulling for this film and Sorry to Bother You to be the dark horses in the race this year (the Academy has been kinder to smaller pictures as of late, so it’s not out of the question). Both films are incredibly important to the political climate right now, more so than most of the other films I’ve seen this year; both films force the viewer to reevaluate their views on certain issues, and surprisingly, both films were shot simultaneously in Oakland during 2017.
"You monsters got me feeling like a monster in my own town!"
In real life, Daveed Diggs (Wonder) and Rafael Casal have been friends for years, and they’ve been working on this script for years as well. Their friendship comes through on the screen as much as it does in their writing. In the film, Collin and Miles have been best friends since grade school, and they’ve been through bad times and good together. When the film starts, Collin has three days left of probation, and he’s doing everything he can to stay out of trouble. His contact with the police has largely been negative, and every time he sees an officer he tenses up. More than anything, he just wants his life back, and with only seventy-two hours between him and freedom, he can almost taste it. When Collin is driving home from work one day, he sees a cop shoot an unarmed black man in the back, and the horrifying incident torments him greatly. The film itself has only a very loose plot; it’s more about the relationship between Collin and Miles, and their relationship to the world around them, and the issues that are very prevalent in today’s culture. The biggest issues this movie addresses are police brutality and gun control, and it addresses them in a way that doesn’t feel overly preachy, it just shows you a side of life that you might not have seen or thought about before.
While the plot of the film is only a backdrop for its commentary on social issues, the writing is what really sets this movie apart. There are times when Collin and Miles break down into a sort of rapping rhyme, and it’s in these parts of the film that the movie really, truly shines. The rapping and rhyming sections usually talk specifically about one of the issues they’re trying to address, and the writing is nigh Shakespearean. It’s beautiful and eye opening, and in the way that this movie works in the rapping works perfectly. I’ve never seen any other film do this; it’s inventive and clever, and it really sets this film apart from other films that are addressing the same points. The climax of the film has an extended rapping part, and I almost started crying because the scene was so powerful.
Another thing I really liked in this movie was the acting. As I mentioned above, Daveed and Rafael are friends in real life and that really comes through on the screen. Though this film does touch on some very troubling topics, it’s primarily a comedy. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this film, and ninety percent of that comes from the chemistry the leads share. Their chemistry allows the movie to flit from super-serious and tense to gut-bustingly hilarious within a matter of minutes. I’d really love to see these two work together again.
Clearly, I loved this movie, but sadly, I feel like this film will mostly fly under the radar due to huge blockbusters that also came out around the same time. It’s one of the better films I’ve seen this year, and I’m really pulling for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Nominations. We’ll see what happens, but this film totally deserves some recognition.
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