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Red Rocket (2022) | Film Review

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

The actual ‘Worst Person in the World’

by Amy Smith

Rating: 2/5

photo courtesy of IMDb

I was somebody who was in the minority when it came to Sean Baker’s The Florida Project back in 2017. Sure, there were things to admire such as the aesthetics and Willem Dafoe’s Oscar-nominated performance, but I struggled with the narrative and representation of the leading characters. Unfortunately, I find myself having the same issues when it comes to his upcoming release Red Rocket.

The film focuses on a porn star, Mikey Saber, who has come back home to Texas and starts to plan his big return to Hollywood. It is soon revealed that his plan involves a 17-year-old girl, whom he finds himself attracted to. Yes, this already sounds as uncomfortable as it ends up being.

I admire Baker for taking on these subject matters, for reflecting on the stories while acknowledging how problematic the situation is and for creating this uncomfortable tone, but I still do not think he goes far enough in holding the lead character accountable.

Regardless of what I think about the character or the narrative, Simon Rex is exceptional as Mikey Saber. Baker has proven time and time again that he is able to bring out fantastic performances in people who may not have had a real shot at Hollywood or even with non-actors, and he does it again here with the entire ensemble. My heart goes out to my favourite character in the film, Lil, played by Brenda Deiss, who unfortunately passed away recently. I am glad we at least have this film and the amazing stories Baker has posted of her time on set to look back on her.

Many moments in this film were so uncomfortable to watch, especially as the situation escalated more and more.

This is certainly going to be a controversial film; my screening had people walking out early and a round of applause from the remaining audience when the credits rolled.

Baker tells a challenging story, and it is up to you whether you think he succeeded or not. Unfortunately, I could not get past the subject matter and how this particular story chose to end. I don’t think I will ever have the heart to revisit this film again, and I may just have to admit that Sean Baker is not the filmmaker for me.


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