Posted by Larry Gleeson
Sean Baker ( Tangerine, The Florida Project, Starlet) and A24’s Red Rocket, a dramedy, featuring Simon Rex, a standout media personality, Suzanna Son, and Bree Elrod, tells the tale of Mikey Saber, a washed up, 20 year veteran performer in the adult film industry who returns home for more of the same, screened last night at the 2021 AFI FEST.
Red Rocket, follows Mikey Saber (played by a compelling Simon Rex), as he futilely careens in and out of harrowing situations in dark places never fully grasping the ramifications of his actions and choices. Bree Elrod as Lexi, and Suzanna Son as Strawberry, deliver riveting performances with exquisite line execution. Rex turns in a tour de force performance as Mikey Saber.
Red Rocket is Sean Baker at his best in this low, low-budget filmmaking. Providing a snapshot of Mikey and the socially marginalized characters that are in his orbit, Baker elevates Red Rocket with snappy dialogue, carefully executed camera work, and the trust he places in the audience. Captivating work from start to finish.
Interestingly, the Q & A immediately following the screening led by AFI Programming Director Sarah Harris got a little saucy. Baker and Rex took exception when an audience member, who coincidentally works in the adult film industry and performs in Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure, also screening at AFI FEST 2021, stated his displeasure hearing the audience guffawing loudly at a term thrown out by Lexi at Red Rocket’s end.
Baker shared the film had five consultants work over the script and scene work to make Red Rocket’s depiction of a former porn star as realistic as possible. Rex chimed in stating few people in the audience would recognize the industry term.
Red Rocket is Sean Baker’s strongest work to date. Not for the faint of heart. Earthy with frontal nudity. Coming to theatres December 10th. Very warmly recommended!