It’s rare to see a film debut as this, but Boots Riley’s absurdist dark comedy is just that. Telling the story of a young African American telemarketer who speaks in a ‘white voice’ to sell to his clients, it’s themes, tone and ideas are utterly bizarre and pretty original. If Black Mirror was to make an fuelled movie, this would be it.
The film boasts an incredible cast; Tessa Thompson, Danny Glover and Armie Hammer all join the main star, Lakeith Stanfield, playing Cassius “Cash” Green. After getting a job as a telemarketer, he quickly proves his worth and becomes wrapped up in events far bigger than he could have expected. That’s all the synopsis that can be given away without revealing the many absurd twists and turns the narrative takes.
The narrative and tone of this film are very odd, and yet darkly hilarious. When Cash starts working at his job, Danny Glover tells him to use his ‘white voice’ as it helps to sell the product. What then occurs is that Cash’s voice is suddenly completely different, now voiced by Arrested Development actor David Cross. Whenever he’s on a sale, or trying to impress people, he uses this voice in an unsettling social commentary.
Race and Social Politics have a major part to play in this film, and while they’re rather unsubtle, the films big ideas are successful in their motives. A particular scene, in which Cash performs a rap, is very uncomfortable to watch, and makes a strong point about stereotypes.
As his debut film, Boot’s Riley has made an incredibly confident piece of work. It completely commits to its ideas, including several 180 turns in the narrative that ensured the two-hour run time never dragged. There were aspects of Block Mirrors dystopian tone, with Get Out and another horror film also having strong comparisons to the narrative (though revealing that film would give away things that shouldn’t be spoilt).
It has to be admitted that with so many ideas and themes being thrown at the film, not everything works. Though it’s tone is consistently unsettling, it does go to places that nobody could ever expect. Though I personally love these kind of films, probably won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Sorry to Bother You is definitely worth a watch. It’s funny, gives great social commentary and has a brilliantly original story. Try your best to go into is blind, like I did, and you should have a great time as the absurd narrative plays out.