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‘BlackKklansman’ First Reactions: Spike Lee’s ‘Electric’ and ‘Brilliant’ True-Life KKK Story Is His ‘Best Film in Years’

The American auteur's latest just debuted at Cannes, where it is competing for the Palme d'Or.



David Lee/Focus Features

Spike Lee is in the running for the Palme d’Or, at least if the first reactions to his latest film, the fact-based dramedy “BlackKklansman,” are to be believed. The film just debuted in competition at Cannes, where the story of some “fo real, fo real shit” (per its own trailer) offered up a new high for Lee’s work, while also providing some canny comparisons to the current culture. IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn called the film “electric” and Lee’s “most entertaining film since ‘Inside Man,'” while The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw compared it to a “pinball machine, pinging and flashing with N-bombs, blaxploitation tropes and unsubtle Trump premonitions.”

One recurring theme throughout the first reactions out of the premiere: It’s Lee’s best film in years, and one arriving at a crucial time. The film reportedly earned a 10-minute standing ovation, with a beaming Lee soaking it all up.

In the film, Lee tackles the Ku Klux Klan, but he’s doing so by telling a very unconventional true story, and one apparently aided by the kind of dark humor not often seen in such features. The film stars “Ballers” star John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, an African-American detective who infiltrated a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs and managed to becomes its leader. That, of course, required the help of another fellow (white) cop, played in the film by Adam Driver, who steps into “play” Stallworth when it’s time to meet the hate group.

Check out a handful of first reactions from critics and press below.

“BlacKkKlansman” opens in theaters August 10 via Focus Features. Watch the first trailer below.

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