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First, this film is outstanding! Colin (Daveed Diggs, who I see won a Tony for his performance in Hamilton) is a convicted felon trying desperately hard to stay out of trouble on his last days of parole. His best friend from childhood, Miles (Rafael Casal), has a very difficult time staying out of trouble. Three days before parole is supposed to end, Colin witnesses the shooting of a black man by a white police officer; the event launches three days that will test Colin and Miles’ friendship. An unusual take on the “buddy film”, this movie gets so much right. The editing is wonderful – right at the beginning, the camera lays two parts of Oakland next to each other – the gentrified Oakland with money and the “hoods”, the Whole Foods market next to a convenience store in one of the poorer neighborhoods. The juxtaposition of the two Oaklands is a major theme of the film. The music choices are excellent. The film alternates between being very funny and very serious, sometime in the same scenes. The screenplay is brilliant and addresses contemporary themes of economic discrimination, capitalism, racism, family, masculinity, and guilt. It also lays bare the assumptions we make and their consequences.  I cannot remember when I have seen a film tackle so much so well and resolve the individual themes together so neatly.  And the two leads – who are longtime friends and co-writers of the screenplay – have amazing chemistry. Diggs’ performance is especially good, and Casal has one scene toward the end that is incredibly powerful. Huge thumbs up for a film that is much deeper than it initially seems when you are watching it and leaves an impact long afterward. I hope the screenplay gets a nod for an Oscar this year – it would be well deserved.

About Gary Burkholder

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