Film Review: BlacKkKlansman
Director: Spike Lee
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Robert John Burke, Michael Joseph Buscemi, Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Frederick Weller, Jasper Paakkonen, Ryan Eggold, Ashlie Atkinson, Topher Grace
Running Time: 128
Australian Distributor: Universal Pictures Australia
Spike Lee returns to the spotlight with a roller-coaster ride inspired by the case in the 1970s when a black detective managed to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan with a white doppelganger Jewish colleague assigned to carry out the face to face confrontations.
The film is bang up to date in its portrayal of racism that continues to be rife in American society. It carries historical references in its wake including some pertinent clips of such films as Gone With The Wind and The Birth Of A Nation as well as the recent heart-rending footage of the Charlottesville riots.
Not only is Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman unbelievably stylish and packed with wit and comedic ingenuity, but it’s also a detailed and unabashedly brutal study of American history.
John David Washington (son of Denzel) gives an inventive and engaging performance as Ron Stallworth, the one black cop in the Colorado police force, who devises a cunning ruse to infiltrate the Organisation. Ron does the set-up by telephone while his white partner Flip (Adam Driver) is sent to meet them in person, with the potential for things going badly awry.
An added complication transpires when Ron hooks up with a Black Power campaigner (Laura Harrier) whose suspicions are aroused at his attendance at some of the student meetings as part of the undercover operation.
Topher Grace provides an egregiously tinged performance as the Klan’s Grand Dragon David Duke who was a real figure at the time and remains today a beacon of racism.
Lee proves to be in his element, with a film that is darkly humorous and deadly serious by turns. This emerges as a piece of brave and skillful filmmaking that tackles huge themes with style and intelligence while providing a compelling narrative drive.
See pictures from the New York Premiere here.
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