‘I’m a Virgo’ Review: Boots Riley and Jharrel Jerome Team Up for Sublime Achievement

This review was originally part of our coverage of the 2023 SXSW Film Festival.

In 2018, screenwriter and director boots riley released his debut novel Sorry to bother you in the World. It’s a bold reintroduction for the artist, but it still doesn’t feel like any compromises. It’s a film full of sly humor, eclectic, and unafraid of the brutal contradictions of capitalism. It flirts with more surreal darkness, then dives headlong into it, kicking you in the chest with horsepower and stunning you in the best possible way. Whether you want to call it magical realism or satirical sci-fi, this fresh take on Riley immediately makes it one to watch.his new project series i am a Virgo, it was worth the wait. This is not only his triumph, but also a showcase for the actor Jarrell Jerome, he put on a pair of huge shoes without hesitation. It’s an ambitious but well-targeted production that promises to get people talking the way Riley did five years ago. So much energy and life have been shown in the first episode of SXSW screenings.

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It all starts with young Cutie (Jerome), whose world, despite its size, is small. Specifically, he’s 13 feet tall. Everything from the objects he’s holding to the ceiling seems trivial in comparison, with carefully constructed visual gags reminiscent of the cramped offices of an office. become john malkovich. Riley, however, goes one step further and continues to find creative ways to explore how Cutie lives her life. It’s all about finding the humor and heart in the details, from bench-pressing the entire car to the amount of food he has to consume. It’s important to note that the series isn’t trying to make him a spectacle.

Jharrel Jerome as Cootie goes for a spin in 'I'm a Virgo'
Image via Prime Video

Not only is Cutie tall but also complex, with no limits to his ambitions and dreams. He was raised by Matisse (Mike Epps) and Lafrancine (Carmen Ejogo), they are doing everything they can to take care of him, although he is quickly outgrowing their little home, both in terms of his size and his curiosity about the world around him. Even when they built him his own house in the backyard and gave him space, Cutie still wondered what else was out there. His main gateway into society is television, which Riley uses to puncture the way commercialism and corruption have woven into our media diet (as he does in “Television”). Sorry to bother you). As Cutie ventures into the outside world of modern Oakland, he discovers that there is still much to learn and unlearn.

Riley largely repeats elements he did in the previous film. like Lakeis Stanfield Cutie, who plays Cassius Green, finds himself faced with a choice: sell himself out or continue to support his new friend. Instead of becoming overly familiar, the feeling deepens when we get a chance to see those around us in greater detail. Some of that may come from the series having more time to explore than a feature, but it also feels like Riley has done a better job of honing the ideas expressed through the characters. Every new person we meet brings a different perspective when introducing Cootie to the world. This employs hilarious sequences in which they pull off various shenanigans, which are then interspersed with deeper shenanigans about the challenges facing the struggling community. Without revealing much, Riley continues to use the weirdness of the story to draw attention to the dark absurdity of everyday capitalism. The struggle of working-class people to pay rent, access healthcare and survive is as much a part of the show’s fabric as it is surreal.

Jharrel Jerome Topless as White Rabbit in 'I'm a Virgo'
Image via Prime Video

what makes I am a Virgo work above others Sorry to bother you That’s how it doesn’t hold back, but walks right out the gate, revealing more and bigger swings. In particular, there was a TV interview with a man named Jay Whittle, who was humorously called an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and, if that wasn’t self-aggrandizing enough, for the hero. played by Walton Goggins In a rare form, the character suddenly puts a gun to his head and starts talking about the need for laws to protect us from any complications. It’s as if he’s in a trance, and as we get to know his character later in the series, we begin to understand why he’s just the embodiment of one of the many death cults that Cutie has to navigate. When we see his early experiences of loss and love, it creates a real connection with him. The journey in the first four episodes still feels like it’s only scratching the surface of its ambitions. Never one to shy away from the absurd, Riley draws well-earned laughs as Cutie grapples with maddening elements of modern life that can also prove dangerous. It’s often silly, but all the better because we’re discovering the world for the first time, led by the giant hand of the gentle giant.

This is conveyed through compelling visuals, both capturing Cutie’s size and slowing down as we get to know those with other unique abilities. It’s a bit of a stealth superhero caricature without taking away its influence. One might be tempted to compare it to: boys especially as we observe a Judge Dredd-like character terrorizing the Oakland community from the air, but I am a Virgo The show brings its own worrying ruminations, but ultimately feels more grounded. A monologue at the end of episode four makes it clear that Riley had no intention of withholding subtlety. Just as the characters in this story face a crisis that requires playing by the rules with a sledgehammer, so do we. While no show in itself is going to change anything, it’s great to see Riley using his platform to get his voice across. The more we learn about his vision, with its fertile creativity and righteous rage erupting in unexpected directions, the better I am a Virgo The promise is.

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