Black director Boots Riley has outshone Spike Lee’s BlackkKansman. Riley has simultaneously created a searing indictment of institutional and unconscious racism, a satire on telemarketing and a vicious attack on American capitalism.
Cassius Green (Lakieth Stanfield) is a wonderful character. He is a hapless loser, living in a garage, but his formidable skills as a telemarketing salesman transform him. He is promoted to a powerful position at RegalView. Once he’s left the telemarketing floor he realises that his skills are being used promoting all-American 21st century slavery. His principal skill is talking in such way that he literally enters people’s lives. One spectacular directorial triumph is having Green successfully selling a service to a man who’s sitting on a toilet. He also speaks ‘white’. Riley has dubbed Green’s speech with that of a white actor. This grimly underlines everyday racism shared by the audience.
Green’s works on behalf of WorryFree. One worry their workers don’t have is money. They aren’t paid. The analogy is Far Eastern sweat shops. Terrible working conditions, housing in battery-hen style dormitories and with fuel loosely described as food.
Armie Hammer plays the arch capitalist Steve Lift. The denouement is Stanfield’s character Cassius Green becoming a strike-breaker and later discovering the true horror of WorryFree’s business plan. Horror piles on horror as Green publicises this horror-show. He discovers American capitalism believes transforming people into docile animals is a wonderful idea.
A brilliant film, hard hitting and yet with a light touch.
Why you should watch this film: It’s fun and is filled with thoughtful insights
Why you shouldn’t watch this film: The final scenes are straight out of Oh Lucky Man and are deeply upsetting to the sensitive viewer (I didn’t like them).