Did I get the capitalization right in that title? Because Spike Lee got everything so right in this movie, I don’t wanna do anything that’s gonna set him back. Seriously, Sorry to Bother You, Blindspotting, and now BlacKkKlansman, this has been a great summer for black filmmakers, of whom Spike Lee has always been king. But if there’s anything these films are trying to tell us, it’s that there’s still so much work that needs to be done in order to get these voices heard. For me, they’re coming in loud and clear.
Based on a story so absurd it can only be true, John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, a black rookie cop in Colorado trying to head up an undercover investigation. His target? The KKK. He places some calls (eventually reaching as high up as Grand Wizard David Duke, played by Topher Grace) that get him in. But how’s a black guy supposed to meet IRL with Klan? Enter Adam Driver, stepping in for the face to face activities as the rabbit hole goes even deeper than anyone expected.
This is easily Spike Lee’s best film in years. For me, it’ll round out his holy trinity with Do the Right Thing and 25th Hour (totally get that some people might prefer Malcom X over 25th, and that’s cool). The film was expertly crafted around a brilliant screenplay. As we were seeing the Klan events unfold, they were often juxtaposed with Black Panther events, showcasing both sides of the story at once. There were bits of dialog that sounded all too familiar in today’s world, and an epilogue that pulled it all into a current context. Every word and scenario was hard hitting (some may say too heavy handed, but I found it necessary) and so effective.
The cast was also incredible. For someone who I’d never seen on screen before, let alone as a lead, Washington owned that screen (musta picked that up from his daddy Denzel). I think the strongest one though was Adam Driver. I know, I hate to be that (half) white person who calls out accolades for the white dude in the black movie, but his character had a tough arc and he played it out with beautiful subtlety (just as we’ve come to expect from Driver).
I also wanna take a second to talk about Topher Grace. I read some interviews with him, where he discussed his trepidation with the role and his discomfort with the words he said. He approached it all with such reverence and respect, and absolutely trusted his director. He was only able to bring himself to say his hateful words with Spike’s blessing, who told him that saying that dialog ultimately served the message of the movie and was essential. The result was worth it.
I walked out of that film blown away, and even a bit disgusted with humanity. Some scenes (especially that epilogue) just cut right thru my soul, because I hate to believe that people are capable of such hate. I really hope this film starts the conversations it’s trying to initiate because this powerful film is one that this divided world needs right now. I cannot recommend this enough.
BlacKkKlansman – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/