Boots Riley’s directorial debut at Sundance certainly made noise to the film festival circuits. The trailer seemed very energetic and electric. Going in the film I expected one thing and ended up with both what I wanted and something more. This film is very gutsy and bold that I would compare it to ‘Swiss Army Man’ in that it has a lot of creative freedom to do its own storytelling with a distinct voice, but is a bit strange to an average viewer. Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson both shine in this film as the main leads.
The supporting cast is quite good with Terry Crews, Steven Yeun and Armie Hammer. The “white voices” are hilariously done by David Cross, Patton Oswalt and Lily James. All of the characters were very well written and the plot of the first half of the film is pretty straight forward. It’s the second half of the film that goes off the rails crazy into a big abstract modern art twist. I did not see the twist coming and I eventually understood what it was representing. Time to process is needed when viewing this film when it comes to the social commentaries on race, gender, socioeconomic statuses.
This is telemarketing. Stick to the script.
The commentary about climbing the workforce ladder I found really compelling. That’s where I felt the movie had it’s strongest focus. How Lakeith’s character Cash had to change who he was in order to climb the ladder than be himself. He wasn’t able to do anything right without be a pawn in someone else’s game without having any control of his life. I wish the film had stayed there than go an extra step and have odd commentary on slave labor that felt a little forced and weird for the sake of weird.
I would say this film is definitely worth a watch. The inventiveness of the telemarketing calls and the tension Boots puts on screen makes it so relatable but very truthful. The uncomfortableness that is making a telemarketing call and having to deal with someone else felt so real. This is one of those independents that can be caught on a streaming platform later on or at a MoviePass/Matinee price.