Director Bootz Riley took a leap of faith with the mega summer movie hit Sorry To Bother You, starring breakout actor Lakeith Stanfield. The satirical comedy was a wild ride from start to finish, and no matter what you went into the theater expecting from the film, you absolutely got something else. Many left the theater questioning what they even just watched, and even though that's still up for debate, Bootz' use of storytelling tricks remained true to tradition.
The poster for the film showcases a worried Lakeith, holding a cellphone with a bloodied head injury. This isn't just some cool / creepy effect, this is a pivotal storytelling crutch his character needs to also display his inner turmoils. Let's take a closer look. SPOILERS AHEAD!
In the beginning of the film (Act 1), all is well in the world for Cassius (Lakeith) and his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson). Though things in their life are a complete mess (broke, in debt, and living out a garage), their intertwined souls are at peace. But, Cassius decides what he currently has isn't quite enough for the living standards he wants for he and his girl.
He gets a job at a call center where the employees are encouraged to use their "white voice" to get the customers to give them the time of day, and purchase what they're selling. This is the point where Cassius has to erase a bit of his identity to get ahead. However, the job isn't supplying adequate pay for the employees, and they want to go on strike, coupled with a protest. Cassius is all on board until...he gets a promotion. Here's the first split of his identity.
Let's thrust ourselves into Act 2 (Part 1: "All is Well"), where our hero dives completely into his new world & journey. Cassius is welcomed with open arms with the elite of the company, and all his dreams begin to come true. He's making bank, he has a wonderful office, and he's adored by his co-workers. However, his personal life begins to take a hit: he and his girlfriend are out of sync, and his boys feel like he didn't stay down with the cause. He also gets so comfortable with his "white voice" from work, that he accidentally brings it home to the bedroom. He doesn't even realize he's using it, until his girl calls him out. This is a signifying point of his loss of identity.
Things can't keep going well, right? Here's where the hero's new world brings new challenges (Act 2: Part 2). The protest from the workers becomes so intense, that media outlets and SWAT are on the scene to be apart of the noise. Cassius tries to bypass his girlfriend & friends to get to his lavish position at work, on the way, a protestor hails a soda can that hits Cassius right in the head! So here we have him selling his soul marked with a physical injury to showcase his pain.
As we dive deeper into the story, we continue to watch Cassius continue to distance himself from his identity. He aligns with the higher powers of the company, goes to secret society parties, raps for a group of white people (even though he's adamant about not having the skillset to do so), and even does a much-too-long of a line of cocaine off of the big boss' table. Though this may sound incredible (according to what the character wants), he's lost his girlfriend, his best friend, and his alliance with the co-worker who's had his back since Day 1. His head injury continues to bleed and grow as his life falls further apart.
Now in Act 3, it's time for the big fix. Cassius discovers the evils of his company and the big boss, and no longer is down for the ride. He tries to tackle the company and correct his wrongs, and along the way, his head injury gets smaller and smaller. To regain himself and his peace, he must undo everything his idea of success cost.
So, we find our hero at the end back with his girlfriend, apologetic to his friends, and at humble finances-- but he's got his peace, matched with a healed forehead!
Now, the ending of Sorry to Bother You is quite strange, and if you haven't seen the film, I definitely won't spoil it here. But... you should see it.
Have you spotted this technique in other films? List them here and tell us all about it!