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'Sorry to Bother You' Review

Tough Call

I saw this film on Monday, and am currently sat—exactly 48 hours after the screening, still trying to decide if I like it. This is a first for me. This is the first time in years I’ve stepped out of a film, being really unsure as to whether or not I liked it. So, I’m gonna put the beef of the film up front, and talk spoiler stuff after the important stuff. One, because this film intentionally hides a lot of what it’s about in the trailer and two, because you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the shit this movie does. So, let’s talk technical stuff, first.

The acting? Awesome, really captivating performances and definitely a sign of the talent on show. The writing? Biting satire which is frequently excellent. I would say the pacing is kinda all over the place and moves too quickly to really let things hit you as hard as Get Out, (a film many, myself included, think is a good reference point) but when a film has this much to say, I suppose that’s kind of an unavoidable issue. The editing? I don't know, for me, it was a bit too all over the place, and not in the same way as the writing. When writing moves at a breakneck pace, but has a lot to say, you can kinda work with that, but I found some of the editing choices to be bizarre and distracting.

The technicalities of this film are, generally, great. With a passion project like this, it’s hard to really make a bad movie. And, make no mistake, this is fundamentally a passion project. Everyone involved is clearly having a wonderful time with the material and, unlike Mary Poppins Returns, I actually like seeing all these characters play off of each other.

I think this film’s biggest strength, however, is the fact that it exists at all. We’re going to tread into minor thematic spoilers for this paragraph but a film like this doesn’t feel like it’s even ALLOWED to exist. One part absurdist dark comedy, one part racial socio-economic satire, one part body horror, one part political-activist dogwhistle, one part dystopian future warning, and one part malicious mean-spirited vehicle for the director’s contempt for the world around him. Even that doesn’t really do this film justice. But again, I won’t explain HOW all these themes come together—primarily because you wouldn’t believe me.

The fact that a film like this exists at all makes me feel like a renegade, like, someone in the projectionist’s booth decided to show us a cut that the cinema received, previewed and immediately banned. Nothing about this movie feels conventional or commercial and it makes me feel elated that it even received a wide release. The last film I could think of that genuinely felt dangerous was Filth, which actually happens to be a film I analysed and discussed as part of my dissertation. While Sorry to Bother You didn’t resonate with me like Filth, it definitely struck the same chord of “I love that this exists and has a wide reach and, despite not necessarily enjoying watching it, I love it.

So, why did I struggle with evaluating this film? Well, for one, I had to debate whether or not it was my personal preferences that gave me issue with this film, or if the flaws with the editing aren’t irrational. Ultimately, I think back to some of the flaws with films I loved recently, like Spiderverse, Searching and Terminal, and the issues with those films didn’t leave me confused as to my overall feeling. As a result, I think it’s fair to say that, while the presentation isn’t for me, it’s definitely a film worth watching. This review, by the design of the film, has to be vague. If you’re going to see it, you might as well see it fresh to experience the intense, gut-punch third act in all its glory.

I’m giving this film three and a half stars, with the half star being awarded for the clear passion on screen and the fact that the film has the balls to have such a bold, bizarre and bullishly off-putting voice. I respect this film a lot more than something like A Star is Born, for instance. Anyway, thanks a bunch for reading this little review! If you liked it, please check out my other stuff! If you REALLY liked it, you could always leave me a little tip here on Vocal, though of course, there’s no pressure there.

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'Sorry to Bother You' Review
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