It's been a week since I watched the film, and honestly, I do not know how I feel about it. I think that could be a good thing? Not really sure. I think it might need to see it again.
The film is about a man, Cassius Green or Cash (Stanfield) who is just a regular ol' guy, kind of just trying to make ends meet. He ends up working at a telemarketing company where they keep promoting this ultimate job of "power caller" which only the best of the best get to do. Meanwhile, society is kind of falling to shit. Reality shows have taken over as the most consumed shows, corporations are using slave labors, but there are groups of people including Cash's girlfriend, Detroit, (Thompson) who are trying to fight back.
What I Enjoyed
First and foremost, the cast is fan-damn-tastic. Every single person absolutely kills their role. The cast was by far the best part of the film for me. Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun and many more great actors.
It presents a very interesting and (kind of) relatable narrative about the state of America today. Honestly while some of the stuff was absurd, with this orange in office, I don't think we're far off from ending in like the society depicted in this film. It talks about having to "rid" yourself blackness in order to succeed in white corporate america, talks a bit about the exploitation of lower and middle class workers, use of slave labor, the "social justice warriors" and a few more things that I, as a black woman, found very relatable.
My favorite storyline in the film was criticism within the resistance movement. For example, Cash gets hired to work for "the man", meanwhile his friends are still at the bottom trying to unionize. They all accuse him of selling out, but he makes the point that Detriot (Thompson) is selling her art to the same rich white men, and his other friends are still working for the same company he is so how is it different? I really liked this. It's something we see in our movements today, this "holier than thou" mindset and "my way is better than yours" but is it? We're all essentially doing and working for the same people so how are your actions better than anyone else?
What I Not So Much Enjoyed
I think I made a mistake seeing it in a majority white theatre. I realized about halfway through the movie, that the white audience made me uncomfortable. The film takes on a lot of different black and low-class narratives, which I liked, but one of them was code-switching.
My white audience seemed to find Cash talking in his white voice, hilarious. We have to do this shit because of y'alls racism, why you find that funny? It was reminded me of Dave Chappelle talking about realizing white people were laughing AT him and not WITH him. I couldn't tell which this audience was doing, and I became very aware of my blackness. There were a few other instances like this in the movie but I don't want to post spoilers.
Tessa Thompson's character, Detroit, fell short for me as well. For some reason whenever a black man writes and directs a film, even if it's a great film, they always seem to not give the black women much of a purpose. Her character is the "alt-black girl" who's leading the resistance against white corporate america, like everyone expects black women to do. They didn't give her much depth as to why she's even with Cash, who is kind of a dick.Their morals don't like up at all. So why are they together and what is her drive for what she does? They didn't explore her character despite her being on screen almost as much as the main character.
It's a weird movie. No doubt about it. I like weird movies too, but this took weird and just went so far left that I was thoroughly confused as to what was going on. By the end of the film I was sitting there thinking "WTF did I just watch?" and I also am not really sure I understood what the overall message or point of the movie was which is why I am not sure how I feel about it.
The film "Annihilation" made me have similar feelings but the thing I liked about that, is it presented you with theories to ponder and then kind of left it to the viewer to decide the answer. This film, to me, just presented me with weird and left it at weird. At some point in the movie, I started to ask myself if this film was made for white people or black people? I really couldn't tell.
I don't want to post any spoilers so I'll leave it there and maybe revisit this after people have had a chance to see it too. But overall I'm always for supporting filmmakers of color, especially the ones who are creating a narrative other than slavery and violence. Black people are allowed to have "weird" movies too. So go watch it and let me know what you think about it.
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