+ Recommended – R, Biography, Drama, Crime
BlacKkKlansman‘s narrative relies on somewhat factual accounts of real life events. Considering how outlandish the plot was, it might have been easy to overlook the raw impact that these themes present to a wider audience. However, the film does make a firm statement, opening just one year after the Charlottesville tragedy. Is this Spike Lee joint worth seeing?
Indeed it is. The camera follows Ron Stallworth, a recently promoted African-American cop for the Colorado Springs Police Department, who infiltrates a local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s. Stallworth, played by John David Washington, has a difficult time being accepted as a black cop but more importantly accepting his own beliefs. He isn’t alone, though, accompanied by Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman and Michael Buscemi as Jimmy Creek, who are part of Stallworth’s task force. There is definitive chemistry between these three team members; BlacKkKlansman has one of the best ensembles from this year and the ensemble portions elevate the linear storytelling for a more suitable viewing experience.
Set your worries aside: Lee’s direction ensures space for comedic elements that guide the tone to a more pleasurable watch. Don’t be fooled, though, because the time period in which the film is set in is still difficult to watch. Lee graciously interweaves relevant social commentary into the plot to demonstrate that history is repeating itself; and in that regards, it makes sense for a horror director (Jordan Peele) to produce a movie of this stature. What we are experiencing through the lens of Stallworth is something that everyday Americans are facing, yet again, today.
And just because the movie has a point to make, doesn’t mean that the technical achievements should be overlooked. BlacKkKlansman‘s subtle score remains in the background but does emerge in a blazing crescendo when needed. Another element that attracted my undivided attention was the camera positioning; often surfacing on uneven terrains to twist the viewers perception of the spatial field. Oddly enough, this trick will undoubtedly compel you to recall some very powerful imagery, even if the cuts and editing can seem disjointed at times.
There is a need for more impactful films like this. Cinema can be used as a tool for figuring out what this world means in regards to your fellow man. Accepting others. Loving each other. Respecting different cultures and ideologies. Lee provides meaningful conversations between differing communities within the two hour run time. If you are looking for some summer fluff this weekend at the theatres, then go see The Meg. For emotional depth, compelling narrative, and cultural importance, go out and catch Spike Lee’s new movie, BlacKkKlansman.