Sorry to Bother You, Film Review
This smart, trippy, satirical production may have you saying wtf multiple times but its political and social messages are hard to ignore.
We all like films that make us laugh, think (for the most part) and say wow to. Sorry To Bother You manages to do all that really well in. It’s probably unlike any film you’ve seen in a while. Now I know that some of you might disagree with me but bare with me, I’ll try to break it down without spoiling it too much.
Firstly, I had a slightly different expectation before watching the film. I saw parts of the trailer before and thought that it was going to be a comedy where black people talk about black issues. However, within the early moments of the film, you are already drawn into the surreal world of the main characters.
Cassius “Cash” Green, the main protagonist is a black guy with a shady working history who manages to miraculously get himself a job in telemarketing company RegalView after lying his way through the interview, a feat which is quite unusual for a man in his position. Being constantly told to ‘Stick To The Script’ on a daily basis by strange bosses, they in turn promise Cash a promotion of the mysterious position of a ‘Power Caller,’ if he does his job well.
Under the tutelage of senior staff Langston (Danny Glover), someone who’s worked there for years, he was told that in order to succeed and make money in the job, he was to employ a white male voice (something that many of us an relate to aka code-switching). He needed to adopt a voice that sounds confident and self-assured like he has got no worries in the world. This proved an instant hit which earned Cash many commissions, praise from the bosses and later an invitation to become a ‘Power Caller’ after a failed employee protest for better pay, organised by Squeeze (Steven Yeun). His new and better earning promotion blinded him to the atrocities committed by the company with their dealings with the owner Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), of modern slavery-like corporation WorryFree. This in turn creates further tensions with the already strained relationship he has with his artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson), friend and coworker Salvador (Jermaine Fowler), and work colleague Squeeze as they believe that he was becoming a sell out.
In between all this, a female boss moves to Cassius for his ‘strong, sexy attributes’, there’s more code-switching with some characters trying to fit into the upper-class contemporary art world. And then the population wear Afro wigs– a scene that reminded me of the Dutch ‘Black Pete’ festival, forced to rap in front of a white audience (it felt like a slave auction).
All these moments added to the subtle way the film divulges in issues surrounding race, the fetishisation of black bodies, cultural assimilation and identity politics. Areas that where relevant back then and even more so today with all the stories and cases we come across on the daily. Lakeith Stanfield makes a very convincing character who wants to make something of his life even if often, he learns from it the hard way.
Sorry To Bother You has some creepy and weird moments that can make you uncomfortable but it’s all part of the bigger picture of what the film is highlighting. It will have you talking about it, even making references. Director Boots Riley, has created an intelligent, thought provoking and incredibly memorable film that deals with important issues without the need to shout what it’s about about.