Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You: A “ladder-climber” in the corporate world
25 July 2018
Written and directed by Boots Riley
Sorry To Bother You is a dark comedy written and directed by Boots Riley, the artist, political activist and rapper from Oakland, California. He is best-known as a longtime member of the music group The Coup.
The film, which reportedly took Riley eight years to get to theaters, is a satire about the oppressive work environment many people currently face and its connection to other aspects of their lives. The plot relies on “magical realist” touches, with the film taking place in a city that is both Oakland … and not-quite-Oakland. An intriguing and distinct score by the music group Tune-Yards permeates throughout.
Sorry to Bother You contains certain refreshing insights and sequences, and Riley at his sharpest captures some of the hypocrisy so rife in official American business and political life. The film makes no bones about its intention to skewer capitalism, as well as its sympathies for the working class. This is to Riley’s credit. However, these merits don’t make the various problems and limitations disappear.
The film centers around Cassius “Cash” Green, impressively played by actor Lakeith Stanfield ( Atlanta ). Cash is a young person struggling to make ends meet in Oakland. Living in his uncle’s garage and racked by anxiety, out of desperation he takes a telemarketing job at a company called RegalView.
Cash’s girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) is an artist also struggling to get by, working as a sign “twirler” for various companies. Outside of work, she creates performance art installations and takes part in a…