5 Dec 2018

Movie review - Sorry to bother you

From At The Movies, 7:31 pm on 5 December 2018

One film marking the split between critic and crowd is a surreal attack on the capitalist system called Sorry to Bother You.

The writer-director is hip-hop artist turned angry filmmaker Boots Riley - and I suspect the movie might work better at a fringe theatre than in a cinema. This is no criticism of its filmic qualities, more on the expectations of the audience.

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) - Cash to his friends - is broke and living in a garage with his girlfriend, performance artist Detroit (Tessa Thompson), so he applies for a job with a telemarketing firm.

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Photo: Supplied

I get it, Boots Riley. There's no example of capitalism at its most crass and obvious that's more clear than a telemarketing firm.

When old hand Danny Glover advises Cash to use his "white voice", Cash's career takes a turn for the profitable - it seems all it takes to sell people stuff is to be white and nerdy. It's a surreal comedy! It doesn't have to be plausible!

But it also marks the moment that the film takes a left turn from popular entertainment to self-conscious artiness.

These days, I'm afraid, surreal satire does as badly at the box office as a modern western.

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green in Sorry to Bother You.

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius Green in Sorry to Bother You. Photo: YouTube / Fair Use

The critics have generally been enthusiastic about Sorry to Bother You - particularly about stars Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson as Cash and Detroit.

But it's too pleased with itself, and it forgot to invite the audience in.