Let me begin by saying that Lakeith Stanfield is one of the most talented actors of his generation and Cassius “Cash” Green is by far one of his best roles. No matter what you see him in, he will never fail to impress you. From being the only saving grace of an extremely mediocre live-action anime movie like ‘Death Note’, to acting alongside and perfectly complimenting every member of an ensemble like ‘Short Term 12’ or ‘Atlanta’, he never fails to steal a scene.
However, this movie is nothing if not one of the most outstanding directorial debuts in the history of film, and the credit goes to Boots Riley for concocting a visually rich and exciting story that will blow you away in one scene and then top it in the next. The first word that comes to mind to describe this movie is that it’s a rollercoaster. But it’s not one of those big and scary ones like the Hulk that has a big loop and then just kinda ends. No, it’s more like The Mummy, beginning with some exposition, introducing you to who’s on the “ride” while also adding crazier and crazier shit like a tomb filled with treasure as fire bellows from all sides, or in the movie’s case: Cassius standing on a stage yelling “N***A SHIT” at a bunch of white people at a party, until you finally reach the halfway point.
At the halfway point you start getting cocky, thinking you’re some big shot movie reviewer who knows what’s going on as it starts to slow down a bit. That’s when this “ride” takes any preconceived notion you had about it and throws it out of the window of a thirty-story building into a wood chucker that was set on fire as the tiny little bits of your mind fall like snow upon the ground, and you realize that even though you have no idea what just happened to you. However, you know that you love it.
While watching the film, I kept thinking back to when Donald Glover rapped “Man, why does every black actor gotta rap some?” on his track “Bonfire” back in 2011. I realized that this line isn’t meant to be a stereotype against black actors, but rather Glover is opening our eyes to the cultural renaissance that we have been experiencing in the 2010’s.
‘Sorry to Bother You’ is so visually and sonically pleasing that it’s hard to actually describe it as just a movie. It’s more of an experience for every one of the senses. Boots Riley uses this experience as a platform to not only give Black Americans a voice by visually representing what they go through, but also to give an easily accessible depiction of these struggles to people who may not even be going through them, not for their entertainment, but for their enlightenment. It’s one thing to make genuinely important and enjoyable music, and it’s another to create a culturally relevant film that speaks to people, but it’s when these two forms of art are combined that a true masterpiece is born and hip-hop and cinema were a match made in heaven. I’m very excited to see what Boots Riley does next and you should be too.
P.S. – If you came to this article looking for an entire plot summary, you’re not gonna get one, cause it just won’t do justice to the raw tenacity of this film, so go watch it.