“I will be very clear with you, dear readers, that this surrealist comic moral tale, about a poor man selling his soul to ascend in a golden elevator to the heights of a dubious corporation, is a balls-to-the-wall, tits-to-the-glass, spectacular orgy of fist-pumping, anti-capitalist, pro-labor ideas rolled into 105 minutes of gloriously unpredictable plot. And just when you thought the film couldn’t get any more bizarre, it verges suddenly into science fiction. This, my friends, is indie cinema.
Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) bunks in his uncle’s garage in Oakland, California. He’s so poor that he measures his gas tank fill-ups in jingle change. “Forty on two,” he tells the cashier, tossing three coins on the counter. Still, his provocative artist girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), sticks by his side, ride or die — Cash may be broke, but he’s still got his heart and his values. That all changes when Cash gets a job at a call center and becomes the best telemarketer in the building, thanks to his cubiclemate Langston (Danny Glover) giving him the secret to success: Use your “white voice.” From then on, whenever Cash makes a call, the nasally tones of comedian David Cross emit from his mouth. Speaking whitely, he wheedles people on the other end of the line into buying whatever the hell it is that he’s selling; he doesn’t care what the product is, just as long as someone’s paying.
There really is a golden elevator only the biggest sellers of the company can take, and inside that elevator, Kate Berlant’s Diana DeBauchery pumps up these “power callers” with vigorous platitudes that assure them of their masculine power. And at the top of the top of the top of this pyramid-scheming empire is one man, Steve Lift, a coke-sniffing imbecile rich boy played by a transcendently evil Armie Hammer, who here comes close to the spirit of the old gleefully erratic performances of Bill Paxton. Steve is a petulant child in the body of a man bedecked with many fashion scarves. Though the guy is total trash, the media dotes on him, allowing him to sincerely apologize again and again for the travesties this billionaire disruptor has inflicted upon the world, like his company Worry Free, which offers the broke room and board for life in exchange for indentured servitude.” —April Wolfe, Village Voice