With this startling and hilarious film, rapper-turned-film-maker Boots Riley brings back a kind of satirical edge that has been sorely missing from American cinema.
Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta) stars as Cassius Green, a young man living in what appears to be present-day Oakland, California. Facing considerable financial pressure, Cassius wants to avoid signing up for WorryFree, an organisation that pays your bills in return for a lifetime of servitude.
Cassius gains employment as a telemarketer, but struggles to do well. Then an older employee explains the secret to sales success on the phone: use a "white" voice.
Cassius follows his advice. Voiced by comic actor David Cross when on the phone, he makes huge advances and is promoted to the hallowed status of "Power Caller".
But his newfound status exposes him to corporate secrets that may just turn his mind inside out.
Those secrets involve a high-concept twist that has been kept entirely out of the marketing materials in a refreshing display of restraint. The twist takes the film into a new tonal space that may be initially jarring, but is ultimately highly effective.
Stanfield is fantastic as the bewildered Cassius, and Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok) brings a lot to the table as his partner Detroit, a performance artist whose signature work amusingly references the 1985 cult classic kung fu musical The Last Dragon. while Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name) also gives great support as a smarmy corporate bro.
Although it seeks to highlight racist hypocrisies, debt-enslavement and other highly relevant modern concerns, this film maintains a metaphorical approach that prevents it from ever being preachy.
Sorry to Bother You
Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer
Director: Boots Riley
Running time: 111 minutes
Rating: R16 (Violence, drug use, sexual material, offensive language & content that may disturb)
Verdict: Just crazy enough to work