Although we’re only just now seeing his first film, Oakland native Boots Riley has been crafting elaborate stories for decades. As the figurehead of the activist hip-hop collective the Coup, he’s built a career on spinning tales that stir spirits and promote sociopolitical change. With Sorry to Bother You, his critically acclaimed debut feature, Riley has conquered the visual medium and established himself as a fresh, unstoppable cinematic voice.
The film stars Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius — a call centre employee who is wooed away from his activist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) as he climbs the corporate ladder. Eventually, he uncovers a sinister (and truly absurd) conspiracy and must choose between personal gain or the greater good.
It’s a thought-provoking, eye-popping and downright insane visual feast that will have you laughing, dropping your jaw and, most importantly, thinking about the state of modern life. And that’s all intentional — sitting down with The Creator Class, Riley explains that he wants to break out from superhero clichés and showcase social change on a grassroots level.
While Sorry to Bother You is certainly a fantastical film, Riley’s goal is to showcase just how simple it is for human beings to achieve lasting change through organizing. As he tells us, “We’ve all got some sort of special power.”