Sorry to Bother You, written and directed by Boots Riley, is at times like a hallucinogenic ride through the waking nightmare that is sometimes real-life. With it’s politically charged themes and its bonkers way of approaching everything and anything, this is a film that from the very beginning makes a mark on you, and it’s a mark it makes sure you don’t forget getting. This review will be a true representation of my rambling thoughts, while I try to cobble together everything I felt and thought during and after, Sorry to Bother You. Join me, won’t you?
In a reality that is one step to the left of ours, we follow Cassius Green – played by Lakeith Stanfield – whose new job as a telemarketer sees him thrust towards a new line of work where morals don’t get invited along and money is the only factor that matters. The wild ride he’s about to go on will be filled with overtly political imagery, and giant mutated workers… so you know, the regular stuff.
Walking into Sorry to Bother You, I had no expectations. In fact, I felt nothing for the film I was about to sit down and watch. That was partly because the one trailer I had seen for the film didn’t instil anything positive within me. But the larger reason was, outside of my love for film and going to the cinema, I was just in a shitty mood. The only reason I went to the cinema at all is because it is the one place where I feel I can shut out all the crap that gets hurled my way on a daily basis, and I can just think about a film. In the complexity of cinema, I sometimes just seek the ease of escape that it offers.
Why am I starting my review off this way? Well, because Sorry to Bother You is a film that spoke to me personally, while also having a much grander message to tell. The monotony and constant routine of working in a job that beats you down; the crippling weight of societal pressures and the fear of large corporations looking at you as nothing more than cattle to fuel their bank accounts… oh, and the minefield of personal relationships and how anything can play a factor in hurting them. Sorry to Bother You brilliantly tackles all of this and more in an experience that is still somehow fun to constantly engage with.
What I think makes it such a fun film to engage with – even with the heady themes and overly direct messaging – is that first time director, Boots Riley, has such an imaginatively spontaneous way of telling his story. This feels like a film from a first-time director, but in all the best ways imaginable. There are no expectations, there are no set ways of doing things, this isn’t a director who has settled into a groove and knows how to best execute a scene; this feels like a director who is experimenting and throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.
Incredibly, almost everything that Boots Riley hurls into the film sticks. Whether it’s the incredible wit within the dialogue, or the jokes that start funny, begin to run too long and then circle back to being funny again; the wild set-pieces, the on-point social commentary, and the balls to go to some really, really weird places and have it feel completely right for the film. It’s an experience where I stopped thinking about what might be around the next corner – as it can at times feel like the film is entering into a natural rhythm – and instead let it surprise me, which it continually did.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I walked into Sorry to Bother You in a sour mood – with no expectations for what I was about to watch. I think it was by the end of the first scene – maybe the second one – that a little smile danced across my face, because I knew then that the journey this film was about to take me on was going to be a crazy one. I don’t think that little smile ever left my face. I sat there for all of Sorry to Bother You and basked in its pointedly apt commentary and its addictive wit.
When the credits rolled and I sat back in my chair, I just smiled and nodded my head; knowing I had for the first time in what feels like weeks, watched a film that made a real impact on me. I understood and respected what it wanted to say on a larger scale, but I connected to it on a personal level, as somewhere deep within all the madness, Cassius Green – who is played brilliantly by Lakeith Stanfield; an actor who continues to go from one brilliant project to the next – was someone I related too; who was someone who I felt I understood.
And this all brings me back to how I first felt when walking into the cinema to see this film. I’ve felt beat down and without the drive – the motivation – to continue with this blog recently. But Sorry to Bother You relit something in me. It got me excited to write, it got me excited about other projects that I’m building outside of this blog, and it just felt good to sit in the cinema and watch a film that meant something.
I absolutely recommend, Sorry to Bother You. I may have overpraised this film or portrayed it to be something more than it is… but I don’t care. On a purely personal level, this film made an impact on me, and I want to go forth and share it. So please, share in the meaningful joy of this film, and who knows, maybe it’ll relight something within you?
This review was a little different from my usual ones, but that’s just where my head is right now. Anyway, please let me know what you thought of Sorry to Bother You, and my review of it, by leaving your opinions/feedback in the comments section down below. Or you can shoot on over to my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – and share you opinions with me there. I’ll bring these ramblings to an end now by simply saying thank you to you. Thank you for coming here and supporting my little hobby; a hobby I’ll soon be expanding upon.