“Don’t listen to what I say. Listen to what I want…“
Because I’m too old to have kept up with the status quo, I have to look to various sources to attempt to stay in touch with all things cinema. Whether it be previous Oscar winners, the IMDB top 250 or end of year lists, it takes time to find a film that is worth watching over my main hobbies of eating and sleeping. Stephen Schneider’s 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die is my latest source of inspiration and it was this that led me to Sorry to Bother You – the searing satire of divisions between classes and races and the directorial debut of Boots Riley.
Cassius Green (LaKeith Stanfield) is a down-on-his-luck telemarketer who’s life is changed when he starts to move up the ranks by putting on ‘white voice’ when on the phone to customers. Danny Glover, Tessa Thompson and Steven Yeun make up a starry supporting cast.
As someone who served two years in shitty telemarketing jobs, I can tell you that life is hell in a call centre. The unhealthy obsession with numbers, the stark warnings to stick to the script, it’s all represented in Sorry to Bother You. But what starts off as a kind of update on Mike Judge’s masterpiece Office Space, soon evolves into something much more nightmarish and surreal. Without giving too much away, the third act spirals down a rabbit hole that is as ethereal as it is bonkers, and while this will be too much for some, I mostly enjoyed it.
Sorry to Bother You is an odd film. It’s also an affecting and powerful statement about the treatment of the working classes. Unfortunately, it’s also at least 20 minutes too long and all that risk taking sometimes doesn’t work. That being said, it is refreshing to see filmmakers taking risks at all and, ultimately, Sorry to Bother You works as a fantastic companion piece to its spiritual brother Get Out.