Musician Boots Riley steps behind the camera for Sorry to Bother You, the feature debut he also wrote. It’s a zany, incendiary comedy that will prove quite unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. The picture follows telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakekeith Stanfield) as he discovers an unlikely business secret that launches him into a world of dizzying success that threatens everything he’s always held true. The film features a sprawling supporting cast featuring Tessa Thompson as Cassius’ put-upon, artist, girlfriend, Terry Crews, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick, Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, Danny Glover and more than a few familiar voices who review themselves in due course.
Sorry to Bother You is a shot of pure originality that left Sundance audiences surprised and chattering. When it bows to the rest of the world later this year, you can count on more of the same. The picture is a frenzied, manic narrative that is relentlessly watchable, even when it veers off-course. Great swaths of it are brilliant, even if certain aspects get lost or abandoned across the way.
The great success of Sorry to Bother You is that it demands discussion. Quite apart from being stylish and often hilarious, Sorry to Bother You is meditative and thought-provoking, and whatever you end up thinking of the final act, it’s something to behold. Boots Riley is the kind of voice Hollywood needs to shake up the status quo and challenge expectations. He’s the kind of artist who attracts talent on the strength and audacity of his vision. It might not always work, but it asks the audience to do the work of thinking critically and creatively and walking back out into the world with a fresh perspective.
That Sorry to Bother You found distribution is one of the great gifts of festivals like Sundance. Boots Riley fought and scrapped to get this picture made, and now the world gets the chance to see his genre-defying, expectation smashing vision, and though that day is months away, it will be worth the wait.
Sorry to Bother You was purchased by Annapurna Pictures and will be released in 2018.