Sorry to Bother You ★½

I guess I watched a totally different film than everyone else. Sloppy, with a script so slap-dash I can’t call it overstuffed, made semi-watchable with a talented cast. Riley’s direction lacks the vision and clarity that makes promising but ambitious debuts so exciting even when they don’t entirely work. The intriguing ideas and satire of the first half (even if the whole “white voice” thing never has the allegorical force you think it does, when you really consider it) is abandoned, rather than amplified by the plot developments of the second half. Thus, it never demonstrates a coherent artistic vision, let alone a real overall political one, even if some individual pieces have salience on their own.

Look, I was kinda getting won over by it’s Breakfast of Champions-style Vonnegut tone, but the result is weak. I can see why people want to like it: politically speaking, it’s a rarity in American filmmaking. I’m as critical of capitalism and pro-labour as anyone I know, so there’s an intense pressure to want to praise those politics when you see them onscreen. But I’m not sure this does leftist politics, of class or race, any favours. I mean it really lacks the mooring in real life that even the most brutal satire needs to be politically galvanizing.