BlacKkKlansman film review: sharp and relevant material

John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman.
John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman.

SPIKE Lee is the film making authority on race relations and bigotry in America.

He caught everyone’s attention back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he tackled the topic in Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever and Malcolm X.

Even his most mainstream work, bank heist thriller Inside Man, has nuggets of a post-911 bigoted attitude.

He returns to what he knows best with the biting and based on a true story BlacKkKlansman.

Back in the 1970s, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) became Colorado’s first African American police officer, but his first role is manning the records room.

Hungry to make a difference on the force, he argues his way to a desk and chooses the local branch of the KKK as his first case.

Over the phone, he charms the branch leader with a faux racist attitude and is allowed to come to a meeting, so he sends his white, Jewish colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) in his place.

While BlacKkKlansman co-writer and director Spike Lee has worked consistently (and tirelessly judging by the many credits to his name), few of his films have left the impact his earlier work did.

It is great to see him back in top form with sharp material that is still unfortunately, and horrifyingly, relevant today, particularly with the current political situation in the USA.

The film is surprisingly light hearted in moments with its sense of humour (much of the comedy comes from the backwards attitudes of the redneck characters), though it could have toned down the cliched, white trash characteristics, which are over the top here.

Though the point it is making about racism is never lost and the final moments – real footage of racially charged violence – are deliberately and shockingly jarring.

THE ESSENTIALS

BlacKkKlansman (MA)

Directed by: Spike Lee

Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas August 16