Red Rocket is an American drama written by Sean Baker, a filmmaker who has a reputation as a quality author of independent films that deal with simple people and their (un) everyday stories. He attracted attention with his works Tangerine and The Florida Project in which he combined improvisation and authentic realism of poor suburbs. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d’Or, while its distribution was handled by A24.
Red Rocket movie Plot and Review
The plot of the film follows Mikey Saber (unexpectedly great Simon Rex), a porn actor whose days of mega-popularity are long gone and who is returning to his hometown in Texas. He has no money and is moving in with his wife Lexi and her mother, with whom he is not on the best of terms, and the fact that no one will hire him creates additional problems for him. The plot arises when he meets underage Riley, an attractive worker in a donut shop who gives him hope that he can triumphantly return to the world of the porn industry.
Our hero is not even close to being honest about bad decisions, failed plans, betrayals, scams and everything he said or did that finally brought him to his hometown, which he swore he would never return to. What we see about him, his motives and his actions gives us a pretty good idea of how bad he was, typical of a man who went through life thanks to charm. Mikey doesn’t care about affection and acceptance, but to convince people to do what he wants – he acts as if he cares, but there is always a reason well known to him.
Our antagonist is a highly immoral and consistently destructive man who calculates and improvises his way to his own goals, which usually go beyond naive or good people. His ultimate goal is to do what he already did seventeen years ago, and his ambitions are creating a kind of minefield that is spreading around him. Almost everything related to Mikey is almost a certain lie and everything we watch is a bit uncomfortable, on the verge of equally unpleasant black comedy (this is especially true of the introductory and final scenes).
The script doesn’t try to please Mikey, on the contrary. He wants us to understand him, his intentions and his specific pattern of lying, cheating and manipulation. During Lexi’s persuasion and during the job interview, we realize that he is a shameless rhetorical tactician and braggart, and through honest interactions with a neighbor, we find out how indignant he is about the things that happened to him. However, common to everything he says in his excuses or stories is that he is not in any way to blame for what happened to him.
The central plot follows his relationship with Riley, a girl whose confident attitude hides a naive and wounded girl. Although Mikey looks impressed, there is little chance that his intentions with her are reduced to traditional romance. Mikey’s calculated manipulation is quite disturbing and, despite the initial sympathies, as the film progresses, we want more and more to get what he inevitably and deservedly gets. Simon Rex is quite charming and allows us to understand everything that is going on in Mikey’s mind, and in his favor is what seems very vital for someone who is approaching the sixth decade of life.
Red Rocket is a vivid portrait of a poor American suburb and a fascinatingly non-judgmental depiction of an immoral man who is ready for anything in search of a better life. Final rating: 8/10
Red Rocket movie cast and characters
- Simon Rex as Mikey Davies/Saber
- Bree Elrod as Lexi Davies
- Suzanna Son as Raylee / Strawberry
- Brenda Deiss as Lil
- Judy Hill as Leondria
- Marlon Lambert as Ernesto
- Brittney Rodriguez as June
- Ethan Darbone as Lonnie
- Shih-Ching Tsou as Ms. Phan
- Parker Bigham as Nash Parker
- Brandy Kirl as Nash’s mother
- Dustin “Hitman” Hart as Nash’s father
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