“Lemme give you a tip, you wanna make some money here? Use your white voice.”
It’s being called 2018’s sharpest political satire, required viewing for every American, and once you watch it, you’ll understand why.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if I fully enjoyed this movie, but the more I let it sink it, the more it resonated. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed the first two acts of the film immensely, but I got a little lost somewhere in the horse-hybrid third act.
In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a universe of greed.
Sorry to Bother You has received largely positive reviews from critics, who have praised the cast and concept, as well as Boots Riley’s script and direction.
Riley’s screenplay for Sorry to Bother You was inspired by his own time working as a telemarketer and telefundraiser in California, and his need to put on a different voice to find success.
Both longtime activist and lead vocalist for the hip-hop group, The Coup, Boots Riley is no stranger to politically charged art. He also wasn’t shy about liking my less-than-impressed tweet about his debut feature that he wrote and directed (I still feel slightly embarrassed for not absolutely loving it).
“In the world of film we’ve edited out all rebellion. We’re supposed to be showing representations of life, and whether the main characters in those worlds agree with it or not, there’s rebellion that’s happening in the world. It’s edited out. It’s replaced by other mundane things that aren’t really in our world, like noontime café dates.There is also a group of people, like 10 percent, that don’t like [the movie]. Here’s the thing — they don’t hate it because of the politics, they hate it because of the twist in it.” Boots Riley via Jacobin
One of the greatest components about this movie is it’s tremendous ensemble cast…specifically Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer. I’ve been raving about Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta) since his small role in Short Term 12…I even boldly suggested he deserved some kind of awards nod for it, and now look where he is!
My only qualm with the film, which is why I didn’t give it five stars, was because of the bewildering mess of the third act. I understand the point, but the direction seemed sloppy and less focused than the impressive first two acts.
But despite my dismay with act three, Boots Riley can be added to the list of impressive debut filmmakers who are making a difference on screen (and doing it really well). Both ambitious and original, I’m looking forward to seeing more from this director in the future.