“Let me give you a tip. You wanna make some money here? Use your white voice.”
An off-beat comedy about white privilege, worker exploitation and personal greed, Sorry to Bother You is the impressive debut feature from writer/director Boots Riley, and stars the excellent LaKeith Stanfield (of Atlanta fame). Riley’s approach to unsettling the audience through the black perspective of navigating social interaction is reminiscent of Get Out, though he also channels Michel Gondry in his loose approach to realism, overtly referencing the director in a stop-motion animated sequence. It is the absurdist notes — like the fact that the “white voice” which propels Cassius’ career is not simply a posh accent spoken by Stanfield but is very obviously dubbed (by David Cross) — which demonstrate Riley’s unique voice as a film maker but arguably distract from Sorry to Bother You’s core messages.
“There are two types of people in the world: the people who naturally excel at life, and the people who hope all those people die in a big explosion.”
The best coming of age stories do not simply speak to those going through the transition, but allow adults to reconnect with that period of their youth. Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig’s wonderful debut demonstrates an ear for the naturalistic wit in sardonic teenage dialogue without the artifice of Juno. Socially awkward Nadine is self-involved, disagreeable and at times even casually cruel, but Craig still allows us to sympathise with her experience. This relies heavily on Hailee Steinfeld’s fantastic central performance, humanising Nadine’s positive and negative traits with warm humour, and granting an emotional weight to those teenage experiences that feel life-or-death at the time. I have not been closely following Steinfeld’s career since her arrival as the wilful young girl in True Grit, but I certainly will be now. Woody Harrelson is notable in a supporting role as that rare, patiently understanding teacher on whom any outsider relies. With the exception of Boyhood (which really is a different beast), The Edge of Seventeen is the best example of the genre for some time.