Out this week is BlacKkKlansman. Directed by the great Spike Lee with an astounding cast this film tells a true story that needs to be seen to be believed.
Starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace BlacKkKlansman is a true story based around the infiltration of the KKK by Ron Stallworth an African-American detective played by Washington. Through his brash nature and savvy wordplay, he infiltrates the KKK.
Once he makes the connection he needs one more element to complete the infiltration, a white man. This is where his superior Detective Flip Zimmerman (Driver) joins the investigation as said white man because as Stallworth states, “With the right white man you can do anything.”
Through their investigation, Stallworth and Zimmerman delve deep into the disturbing underbelly of the organisation as they call themselves (don’t ever call them the KKK they don’t like that). They encounter the worst of humanity and have to tackle it the best they can.
In BlacKkKlansman Spike Lee has crafted a highly affecting film. The world that the characters live in is disturbingly familiar and not just because this is based on a true story but because of how events are unfolding in the present day. The tension between the races is palpable and it’s fascinating to see the two sides of this war as Lee shows both sides and how they are both being influenced. With the young black community, it is from stirring words of Black Panther member Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins) and with the KKK it is the earnestly terrifying David Duke (Grace) the grand wizard of their illustrious organisation.
Giving these ridiculous over the figures life is an outstanding cast. Washington and Driver are brilliant, in particular, Washington who gives a nuanced performance as an almost real life Shaft. He’s stuck between the black and blue in a time when police were enemies to citizens who they should have been protecting and there’s an odd kind of duality in his performance as Ron Stallworth clearly loves being a cop but at the same time has to contend with the views of his community which clash often.
Driver much like his character has to do some of the heavy lifting when it involves the investigation. Being Jewish Zimmerman has to be constantly on guard when he infiltrates the KKK and it does not help that almost everyone around him is an enemy. Once again Driver is fantastic showing an incredible depth with his performance. The supporting cast is also filled with impressive performances. Unfortunately, it’s mainly on the KKK side of the cast so I feel bad saying some of the best parts of a film came from some incredibly horrible and racist performances. Topher Grace is a highlight playing the ever-smiling head racist David Duke. In an eerie bizarro world, you can imagine this is where Eric went after he left That 70’s Show.
The stylistic choices of the film are also top notch with the 70’s looking smooth, authentic and brimming with the kinetic energy of the time. There are even shots in the film that parody the blacksploitation pictures of the time which adds to the surprising humour of BlacKkKlansman. It is quite dark humour but it is humour none the less.
If there are faults with the film it’s the length. At 135 minutes it overstays its welcome somewhat which can happen with films based on true events.
That’s it however as this was a fascinating film to watch and to experience as it is quite timely and I imagine this was by no accident. BlacKkKlansman is filled with potent performances and an electric energy. One of the best of the year.