Almost a year after its presentation in Cannes, ‘Red Rocket’ has committed a mortal sin: opening the same weekend as ‘Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness’. And it’s a shame, because the new Sean Baker deserved much more attention.
The director of the fabulous ‘Tangerine’ and ‘The Florida project’ once again makes an almost perfect dissection of the United States, without fear of cutting where it hurts the most, taking us to a place lost in time at the hands of Mikey, one of the most charismatic characters -and, at the same time, deeply unpleasant- of recent times.
Mikey Saber has failed at the only thing he knew how to do well in the world: the porn. It was more than fifteen years of making movies, but now he has returned to Texas City willing to meet again with his wife, Lexi, who leaves a space for him on the sofa and little by little falls back into her clutches. The problem is that Mikey not going to settle for a quiet life away from success if he can return to the industry in style.
Mikey is the typical person with whom you want to be: He has great anecdotes, he’s funny, charismatic, he always knows what to say and how to influence others. The problem is that, in addition, he is a liante that does not know when to stop. ‘Red Rocket’ presents us with the dilemma of learning to love a character on screen who in the short distances we would hate. He is a relaxed, fun, friendly guy who, to survive, would be able to sell you for a sandwich.
And in the insightful analysis of this absolutely ravishing personality (cinematically speaking, of course), Baker continues to take the camera as if it were a scalpel and open the channel to the United States to dissect everything we don’t normally see: the empty and meaningless lives, the deluded teenagers who see a future in pornography, the tired blue-collar workers who find their only moment of relaxation in drugs. The American dream has long since been punctured in Galveston County.
take away those straws
The charismatic and hateful protagonist of ‘Red Rocket’ would not be the same without the face, the exaggerated expressions and the way of speaking of Simon Rex, canceled a few years ago in the United States for some videos recorded at the beginning of his career where he masturbated to get money with which he paid the rent and food for his girlfriend’s son. Fortunately, it seems that Hollywood has forgiven him for his sinful attitudes (you know how they are there for these things) and he is able to make a memorable performance, in which his charisma is mixed with vulnerability and toughness. It wasn’t an easy role, but Rex makes it look like it. Simply fabulous.
People often read about this film as a “feel good movie”, and it makes one wonder if ‘Schindler’s List’ is too. There is nothing that makes the viewer feel good here, especially once the comforting and bubbly personality of the protagonist falls away, revealing that it is just a backdrop that masks despair of a cheek to return to the top, no matter who he takes ahead.
‘Red Rocket’ is a movie in which you fall into the same mistake as all the secondary ones: you trust mikey irremediably. Even though you can clearly see that he has not, you believe that he has changed. That it is no longer the same one that everyone talks about. And suddenly, a knife. And another one: his mistakes hurt twice as much because as a viewer you wanted to trust him. He is the compass of the film, we see everything from his point of view, and we can only empathize to a certain extent of no return
Sean Baker does a masterful job behind the cameras: as in his two previous films, he knows how to show the corners that no one shoots, the places where stories don’t happenthe blind spot of the United States, where the characters live with empty lives that, paradoxically, have more to tell. rejections of society, the end of the barrel, hearts without ambition that have not even considered leaving their comfort zone. ‘Red Rocket’ is a great little indie wonder that you’d do well to run to see before it’s pulled from theaters. If this recommendation has not come too late.
Sean Baker tells the story of a bad apple, a former porn star able to sell sand in the desert that is always looking to climb the next step, even if it means leaning on the heads of others to get there. The deepest America shown as a sour comedy, of those that hurt a little. A wonder in times not suitable for cinema full of nuances.