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Sorry to Bother You

Cassius (LaKeith Stanfield) is desperate for a job; he is living in his uncle’s garage and is several months past due on rent. He brings a trophy and achievement certificate Cassius bought to impress the interviewer and lands a job with a telemarketing company where he is admonished to always “stick to the script”. With a little help from a coworker (Danny Glover) at the company, he suddenly becomes wildly successful and transitions to the ranks of “power-callers” who get lavish offices upstairs and land the best accounts and outrageous salaries. All the while, his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) is a performance artist who is decidedly anti-capitalist, and her world and his world become more and more at odds. This film is definitely the most original I have seen this year. The screenplay is so unusual, setting up a kind of parallel universe that shrewdly examines race relations to a lesser extent. More importantly, it is a satirical and shrewd examination of capitalism. It is a film that defies exact genre – it is a commentary on being black in a white world, similar to Get Out; it is a dystopian fantasy; it is science fiction, like Snowpiercer in its separation of classes; it is The Office with an African-American overlay; it is Marxist manifesto for the proletariat to rise against the owners of production. Not everything worked – some of the jokes fell a bit flat – but when the script worked, which it mostly did, I laughed aloud. I loved the originality of the screenplay. The acting is great, particularly by Stanfield. This gets a big thumbs-up from me. I am not sure if I would necessarily recommend this to many people, but if you like searing social and political satire and originality, this may be a film you would enjoy. While I was watching it, I thought about a book I recently read, The Sellout, which features some of the same kind of humor. If you read and liked that book, you will probably like this movie.

About Gary Burkholder

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