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.

No caption

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.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)