Sorry to Bother You: LFF Film Review

I had heard so many amazing things about Sorry to Bother You so I was among those successfully campaigning for it to get a UK release. The first half is absolutely brilliant and I loved it so, so much, but it totally lost me towards the end when it got too weird.

The film is set in an alternative present day version of Oakland, and Lakeith Stanfield stars as Cash, an African-American telemarketer who becomes successful at his job when he adopts a “white” voice (voiced by David Cross). He is promoted to power caller on the same day his colleagues begin their strike over pay, so he must choose between his friends and the cause and the allure of big bucks, even though one of his new clients is WorryFree, a morally questionable business.

The trailer focuses on the first half of the film and that makes sense. I don’t want to reveal what happens in the third act but it veers into territory that you would never expect. I loved the first half – it was surreal, it was funny, it was clear what it was trying to say and there was a lot to savour and enjoy – but towards the end, I found myself laughing at it because I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. It switches from a funny satire to a baffling, trippy sci-fi that is just too weird. I just kept thinking ‘what the f**k?’ during that section. I didn’t really understand the message behind it or why it needed to go to such a f**ked-up place. I kept waiting for it to be a hallucination or something, but no. It’s a shame because I was really enjoying it up until that point.

Boots Riley has written and directed a film that it is truly original with plenty of interesting ideas. It is a surreal comedy that was smart and extremely funny and I appreciated the attention to detail, from the ever-changing photograph to the messages Cash’s fiancee Detroit (Tessa Thompson) wears on her T-shirts and homemade earrings.

He has put together an incredible cast, and my favourites were Thompson (and her white voice Lily James), who is so cool and strong, I loved her look and her attitude, and Armie Hammer as the CEO of WorryFree. He is so corrupt, so evil but he’s totally convinced himself he’s the good guy so he was a lot of fun. Other notable actors include Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick and Danny Glover.

I really wanted to love Sorry to Bother You 100% because I love the cast, the original concept is ace and the first half was everything I wanted and more. So it’s a shame it was let down by the third act – it just went too far and lost me. I didn’t get it, I didn’t enjoy it and my head was just spinning with confusion during it. That part certainly won’t appeal to the masses, but they should still check it out because the rest deserves a watch.

Seen as part of the 2018 BFI London Film Festival. Due for release on 7th December 2018. 

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