Sorry to Bother You

No, _this_ is my favourite film of the year. Boots Riley’s take on race and capitalism in America starts off like a surrealist version of The Office. It could have happily continued in this vein, but along its joyous, twisting route it takes in elements of Brazil, Robocop, Being John Malkovich, Get Out, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Anchorman, O Lucky Man, and yet is entirely its own thing.

It follows the tale of Cassius Green, struggling to make ends meet living in his uncle’s garage. He takes a job in telemarketing and finds himself particularly adept at it when he adopts his ‘white voice’. Danny Glover instructing him on how to use this is racial America boiled down into a sassy five minute scene and is perfect. Green is so adept at this that he gets promoted to a power caller, where his job is now to to sell slave labour with “white voice only”. The company offering these services is WorryFree – a start-up many a Silicon Valley entrepreneur would be proud of, with its purpose of reinventing slavery. The film takes bizarre, and comic turns from here as Green struggles to expose the equine truth behind WorryFree.

Sorry to Bother You is hilarious, rich and inventive without the strain of trying too hard to be whacky that is evident in films like Swiss Army Man. It effortlessly takes on capitalism, art, race, labour while saying something about our humanity and everyday moral choices. All this while being genuinely laugh out loud funny too. It is cinematically playful, a collection of your new favourite scenes sequenced together in a compelling whole. The rap Green is forced to perform, despite his protestations, and he resorts to chanting “n****r shit” to the joy of the white party goers is by itself an acute take down of white stereotypes in the music industry. Or Tessa Thompson’s performance art scene, which is both brutal and comic, like the film itself.

While there are plenty of films that are serious and worthy about the current plight, particularly in the US, this does not always translate into good cinema. STBY has everything, in short, this film is fucking brilliant and you should see it.

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