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.
Hot damn, #BlacKkKlansman is electric. It’s simultaneously Spike Lee’s most entertaining film since INSIDE MAN and a savvy indictment of Trump-era bigotry right down to the chilling real-life climax. #cannes18
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 14, 2018
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is an undercover cop drama of the 70s race war that lights up like a pinball machine, pinging and flashing with N-bombs, blaxploitation tropes and unsubtle Trump premonitions. Review later #Cannes2018 #Cannes71 #Cannes
— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) May 14, 2018
— Baz Bamigboye (@BazBam) May 14, 2018
BLACKkKLANSMAN: righteous agitprop that’ll crack you up when it isn’t making you heated with rage. Spike re-re-reaffirms his crucial place in the American cinema. Modern history, written with lightning.
— Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse) May 14, 2018
#Blackkklansman is the Spike Lee movie we’ve been waiting for.
— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) May 14, 2018
BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee’s best film in quite awhile even if it doesn’t always gel together. Powerful look at how little America has changed since early 70’s in race relations contrasting to today.
Also quite funny at times. #cannes2018
— Gregory Ellwood (@TheGregoryE) May 14, 2018
— Alex B. Wright (@LoveTheMost) May 14, 2018
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) May 14, 2018
#Blackkklansman is Spike Lee’s best movie in years.
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 14, 2018
#BLACKkKLANSMAN is @SpikeLee’s best since #InsideMan. A 2hr 8min FU to #WhiteNationalism & Agent Orange. It’s part blacksploitation part Buddy Comedy but 100% fed up & pissed off – this film goes in, y’all. That cpl’d w/ the last 5 mins will let most folks forgive its flaws. pic.twitter.com/KTH5ldAHX5
— American Black Woman @ #Cannes2018 (@THATJacqueline) May 15, 2018
— Andrea Mandell (@AndreaMandell) May 14, 2018
BLACKKKLANSMAN is, to put it bluntly, fucking amazing. #cannes2018
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) May 14, 2018
Through a period lens, Spike Lee’s BLACKKKLANSMAN is a funny, furious portrait of Trump’s America: a hysterical joke until it’s as serious as a heart attack. Spike to the max, at his best.
— Jake Coyle (@jakecoyleAP) May 14, 2018
“BlacKkKlansman” opens in theaters August 10 via Focus Features. Watch the first trailer below.