Musician Boots Riley makes his directorial debut with “Sorry To Bother You”, which might just be the most ambitious film of the century. The film stars Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) as a telemarketer who is advised by a co-worker to use his “white voice” (dubbed over by the comedian David Cross), where he soon finds success and fame, despite not even knowing what it is he’s selling.
This high-concept premise is utilized to the fullest extent, creating a surreal mix of clever social commentary with surreal absurdism. I could list off a plethora of films Sorry To Bother You draws inspiration from (Brazil, Office Space, the filmographies of both Spike Lee and Charlie Kauffman), yet there’s nothing truly like it. Co-starring are Tessa Thompson (Thor Ragnarok) and Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), the latter of which truly goes all out as the coke-head billionaire tycoon. All three are terrific alongside many of the films cameos.
While it’s cohesive enough to follow, and care about these characters, the film takes wild turns in the plot and always manages to insert a comment or critique. These jarring shifts will definitely turn off most viewers, and may even be too ambitious for it’s own good, but the unpredictable nature and confidence writer/director Boots Riley displays helps coax you along for the ride. This is truly one of the funniest, most subversive films I’ve seen all year, and will hopefully enter the Oscar Buzz conversation following later this year.
WARNING -This is a film that benefits heavily from avoiding any sort of trailers or promotional material. It’s best experienced blind.