“Sorry To Bother You,” the first feature film from writer-director-rapper Boots Riley is a mixed bag of good and bad ideas. This, combined with the fact there’s plenty of great social commentary, makes it hard to understand what you just watched upon the first viewing.
“Sorry To Bother You” is bogged down with bad editing, dead-end scenes, and a plot that doesn’t really start until the second act, but the film makes up for this with great cinematography and dedicated performances from the main cast.
Lakeith Stanfield truly embodies the character of Cassius Greene and it actually feels like he is the character, rather than an actor playing a character on a movie set. It’s his performance that grounds much of the third act where the plot is purposefully overwhelming. Actress Tessa Thompson also gives a nuanced performance as Detroit, Cassius’ live in girlfriend and performance artist.
Unlike Stanfield, Thompson’s performance doesn’t feel like she becomes the character as deeply as her co-star, instead, it feels like she’s just being herself. She’s so good that I’m partially convinced that Thompson is only playing a character half of the time.
“Sorry To Bother You” has a creative story that relies on absurdist humor, but unfortunately the film gets too absurd in the third act, and it ends up working against the film, rather than helping it tell a cohesive story.
The film needs about eight more minutes of content so the audience has more time to sit with the story. This would’ve helped the film have a stronger story and maybe a better ending.
Although I have mixed feelings toward “Sorry To Bother You,” it’s worth seeing because it’s a great satire of our society and the institutions at power, and you’d be cheating yourself not to experience this film.
“Sorry To Bother You” releases nationwide on July 6.