LFF 2018 Preview - Sorry To Bother You
Dir: Boots Riley
Starring Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Steven Yuen, David Cross
Boots Riley’s satire is really all over the place. And whilst it has a degree of wit, something to say and its own style, by the time you get to the “equi-sapiens” – mutated horse-people to you and me – you can’t help but feel it has somewhat left the rails behind.
The increasingly watchable Stanfield is on his way to stardom here as Cassius Green, a young man in need of a job who talks his way into a position in telemarketing. In this slightly surreal dystopian vision of contemporary Oakland, everyone watches the most watched show in the world “I Got The Shit Kicked Out Of Me” (in which contestants are beaten up live on air) and always in the background is the new super company/lifestyle that goes by the name of "Worry Free", which offers job and accommodation for life – not a million miles away from future slavery. Encouraged to use his "white voice", Cassius rises in the company to a coveted position upstairs as a "Power Caller" (in an office that resembles that of Being John Malkovich – but with more headroom) and becomes a superstar telemarketer and is soon in the presence of Armie Hammer’s unhinged uber-boss – who, yes, is responsible for turning people into horses. Add in some union activism and an all-but race riot (with echoes of Soylent Green for good measure) and you can see that there is a good deal going on in Riley’s film.
Sadly, only some of it works. Stanfield’s performance keep things moving and some of the social satire is fun in the moment. But it’s a very mixed up, muddled up, shook up world the writer/director is creating, and one that lacks much in the way of consistency. It’s often funny, often surprising, always ambitious and ultimately frustrating in its inability to bring all these disparate elements together.
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