The Films of Boots Riley
Sorry to Bother You (July 13/18)
Set in an alternate present-day reality, Sorry to Bother You follows Lakeith Stanfield's Cassius Green as his success as a telemarketer is directly attributed to his decision to employ a "white voice" during his outgoing calls - with the movie detailing the degree to which Cassius' newfound prosperity affects everyone around him (including his socially-conscious girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson)). Filmmaker Boots Riley, making his debut here, certainly does an effective job of initially drawing the viewer into the unapologetically oddball proceedings, as Sorry to Bother You boasts a creative, unpredictable opening stretch that's rife with appealing elements - with, most obviously, the movie benefiting substantially from Stanfield's thoroughly compelling turn as the affable protagonist. (And it doesn't hurt, surely, that Riley has packed the supporting cast with strong performers like Terry Crews, Danny Glover, and Armie Hammer.) It's equally clear, however, that the picture begins to demonstrably stumble once it enters its wheel-spinning midsection, as Riley delivers a somewhat paint-by-numbers narrative that effectively (and increasingly) wreaks havoc on the film's momentum - with, initially, the progressively hands-off vibe alleviated by Riley's sporadically exhilarating visuals sensibilities (eg Cassius spends his money in a blistering montage). There reaches a point, though, at which Sorry to Bother You's positive attributes are rendered moot by a somewhat pointless and aggressively aimless third act, with the inclusion of a few seriously outre plot twists only compounding the growing atmosphere of outright desperation - which, in the end, confirms the movie's place as an ambitious but ultimately ineffective debut endeavor.