There’s a lot of big blockbuster films out around now, but if you’re looking for something smaller and more original then look no further than Boots Riley’s directorial debut Sorry To Bother You.
Starring Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius “Cash” Green, a young man who takes a job at RegalView, a telemarketing company, in order to support his girlfriend Detroit, played by Tessa Thompson.
It doesn’t sound like the set up for one of the most insane and brilliant films of the year, and indeed as the film begins it seems more like a commentary of the exploration of poor working class people by massive companies, particularly pertaining to the African American community. We see Cash and his fellow workers begin to unionise under the leadership of Squeeze, played by Steven Yeun.
The only hints of something very different is the success that Cash begins to find with the use of his “white voice” when selling, and idea laid out by the legendary Danny Glover, his fellow colleague, at RegalView.
And then maybe halfway or two thirds the film takes a big shift during a party thrown by Steve Lift the megalomaniacal owner of WorryFree a company essentially offering lifetime indentured servitude. Armie Hammer plays Lift in a brilliant, completely insane performance. But it’s not an over the top crazy one, it’s far more restrained, yet you can still the Lift’s insanity underneath that.
I don’t really want to reveal where the film goes from here, but needless to say it’s something you will never see coming. Boots Riley’s voice and vision as the writer and director of the film helps keep the insanity together. At times it feels like it’s close to going off the rails completely, but Riley always manages to bring it back to its core ideas. He also has a striking flair for direction visually.
He uses incredibly provocative and powerful imagery regularly, and nearly every scene is packed with something fascinating to watch. This translates through to Detroit’s character, who works as an artist making bold provocative art pieces.
So if you want something different over the holiday period then go and watch Sorry To Bother You. It’s hard to truly tap into and describe the insanity of the film without spoiling the big moments. But just know that whilst you may not wind up loving the film, you will not be disappointed.