VIFF: Black Cop is in your face and angry

Black Cop, by Canadian director Cory Bowles, is pretty much what it says on the tin — the story of an African-American man who works as a police officer.

The film dives deep into the divisive political and social climate of America. It opens with “Black Cop” being berated by young Black Lives Matter protesters for his conflicting identity, something that he struggles with throughout the film.

I use the term “Black Cop” when referring to the film’s protagonist because that is what he calls himself and we are never given his actual name.

This paradoxical title is best scrutinized when, in a tense scene, he is commanded to give his name to a white cop who repeatedly says, “Identify yourself.”

“Black Cop” cannot fully come to terms with his own internal conflict, just as America can not come to terms with its own national conflicts. “Black Cop” ultimately finds a solution in anger and hate, demonstrating the potential result for America if it does not find tolerance and respect as soon as possible.

The film’s message of struggling with one’s identity is made clear by the conflicted protagonist and sequence of events, as well as several fourth wall breaking scenes that allow the conflict to be visualized and outright explained.

The film’s poster features “Black Cop” lit by red on one side and blue on the other. This is a recurring visual in the film. Police body cams are used to film the most violent and disturbing scenes. These moments are visually appealing and allow the magnetic and powerful star, Ronnie Rowe Jr., to shine as this morally torn character.

The film’s editing was lacking in certain ways. It often overuses the dramatic technique of rapidly cutting to black, which ultimately diminishes its effectiveness in scenes where it is actually necessary.

This is definitely not a film to see if you’re looking for a relaxing, entertaining night at the movies. It is frustrating, angry and impossible to tune out.

Black Cop was awarded the Best Canadian Film Award at VIFF 2017.