This Grand Prize Winner at Sundance is an emotionally impactful
social commentary that works because it remembers to draw in the viewers
to care about the characters.
Collin (Daveed Diggs, who won a Tony and a Grammy for originating
the role of Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the Broadway musical“Hamilton”)
is on the last three days of his probation.
He lives and works in Oakland, the rough side of town.
He got in trouble because he lost his temper, and got in a fight
with a rude client while working as a security guard at a nightclub.
Now, he spends his days working at moving company, and living in a
halfway house where the curfew is 11 p.m.
Sharp. No excuses.
His best buddy in the world is Miles (Rafael Casal), who's been his
friend since childhood, and is now his partner on the moving van. Miles
seems to be one of those “culture vultures” who's white, but is very
comfortable in the black community. He's
married to Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones, who was also in “Hamilton”),
a black woman, and they have a young son together.
Miles enjoys rapping with Collin.
They carry on their conversations in a kind of street jive where
they're both very adept, but Miles has to be a little careful, sometimes,
around blacks who don't know him, who might think he's caricaturing or
Collin's had a girlfriend, Val (Janina Gavankar) the receptionist
at the moving company, but she kept her distance from him when he was in
jail, and because of that Miles thinks he should just forget about her.
Collin spends a lot of time at Miles' house, but he still pines for
a re-connect with Val. But
until or unless that happens, Collin is facing moving back home, where his
Mom seems more welcominmg of her stepson, and tells Collin he's old enough
to live on his own.
Collin is trying his best to walk the straight and narrow, but
circumstances seem to be conspiring against him.
He witnesses a white cop shooting a fleeing, unarmed black man, but
his guilt about not being able to get involved causes him nightmares,
featuring the specters of other black men standing beside their
tombstones, silently condemning him. He
also restrains from getting involved when his buddy Miles gets in a fight
at a company party, because Collin just can't afford any more trouble, but
Miles calls him on the disloyalty. Miles
buys a gun, and Collin reminds him that he can't be around that, because
he's a felon, and his probation will be revoked.
So the tensions abound, even among best buddies.
Daveed Digg's talent and presence makes him a character we want to
root for, despite, and because of, all the challenges around him.
The coarse language and confrontative dynamics will be off-putting
to many genteel moviegoers, but it's a social parable with the lilt of a
street rapper and the sharp edge of a box cutter.