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Red Rocket

Simon Rex is Mikey, a washed-up porn star who makes his way back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas to figure out a new direction. He shows up, all smiles and optimism, on the doorstep of his ex-wife and mother-in-law. Most of the town doesn’t seem terribly enamored with his return, including the wife he left when he ventured to Los Angeles. I really enjoyed this film. It is a very typical Sean Baker movie in that he beautifully captures the mood and sense of place associated with characters who occupy a marginal slice of society. Here, he captures the closeness of a small town and the diverse people who seem to be connected through some sense of survival. Baker also has a knack for getting stellar performances from his mostly unknown casts. It took me a while to remember Rex from his roles in the Scary Movie franchise; here he shines as a kind of smiley, overly optimistic, and simultaneously rotten kind of guy who seems to trip over his own feet and self-sabotages any hope of getting ahead; he is on the one hand very likable and on the other a person who will use anyone to get what he wants. The woman who plays his wife and the girl at the donut shop, Strawberry, a person in whom (at least briefly) he meets his match are both excellent as well. If you like Sean Baker films – Starlet, Tangerine, and the Florida Project – you will probably like this one as well. (2021; 4 Stars)

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