Film Review: Red Rocket

A24’s Red Rocket is filmmaker Sean Baker’s latest look into the lives of struggling lower-class Americans faced with morally questionable choices, and features his signature style of understated and character-driven storytelling. The film stars Simon Rex as Mikey Saber, a washed-up pornstar who returns to his Gulf Coast hometown after a 17 year absence. He moves back in with his estranged wife, Lexi (played by Bree Elrod). Mikey meets and quickly falls for a 17-year-old donut shop girl, Strawberry (played by newcomer Suzanna Son). The film follows Mikey and Strawberry as they fall into each other’s orbit, and is a thought-provoking and challenging look into the fallout of their new relationship and Mikey’s toxic and destructive personality.

Image Courtesy of A24

Despite its small similarities to Lolita or even A Star Is Born, Red Rocket stands entirely on its own and finds new ground within the themes of nymphomania and washed-up stardom. Simon Rex’s performance captures a manic and narcissistic persona in Mikey that often seems to echo the 45th President’s personality. This is a juxtaposition that Baker doesn’t shy away from, often placing the former POTUS and Mikey within the same frame. Although Mikey is a character that’s easy to judge as morally reprehensible, his reality distortion field seems to affect more than just the characters on-screen, as his victories and losses become the viewer’s.

Suzanna Son’s performance as Strawberry captures a raw sexual energy that is undeniable and impossible to look away from. Her relationship with Mikey evolves from dealing and smoking weed together, to Mikey attempting to convince Strawberry they could be the next big couple in the porn industry.

Suzanna Son displays a surprising extra talent in one of the film’s highlights, an intimate scene in which she performs a stirring keyboard ballad version of NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.” All four members of the band signed off on the creation of the cover song specifically for the film. You can listen to it here.

Despite its challenging themes and setting, Red Rocket is a sincere and entertaining look into the lives of characters not often focused on in modern media. It is gripping, hilarious, and newcomer Suzanna Son displays extraordinary talent throughout.

Red Rocket will be available to own on digital and on demand February 8, 2022, available to rent on digital and on demand March 1, 2022, and on Blu-ray March 15, 2022. You can watch the official trailer below.

Comments are closed.