The Reel Review
A washed-up porn star returns to his tiny hometown on the Gulf Coast of Texas, convincing his estranged wife and her mother to let him move in with them. While they think he is finally sorting his life out, he slips back into his same old bad habits, in this dark comedy.
If you liked co-writer/director Sean Baker’s other films Tangerine and The Florida Project, then you also likely will enjoy this very similar character portrait of an individual living on the fringes of society. Real life former porn actor Simon Rex, who flashes A LOT of full-frontal nudity throughout the film, is absolutely spot on as Mikey, the kind of guy nearly all of us have met at some point – a narcissistic man-child who repeatedly uses his boyish charm to manipulate everyone around him in order to fulfill his own selfish desires.
Baker again illustrates his knack for finding non-actors to play an array of quirky supporting characters rarely portrayed in film. And the shots of the port town of Texas City, Texas deftly capture the dreariness of an economically depressed community. Fascinating in a lurid, trainwreck sort of way, Red Rocket has an intentionally ambiguous ending that finally lets us in on how Mikey perceives his pathetic life, just as it comes spectacularly crashing down around him.
• 48-year-old Simon Rex – a former Versace model, MTV VJ, actor, rapper and solo porn actor – won the 2021 Best Actor award at the Independent Spirit Awards.
• Several months after the film’s release, Simon Rex said that he was wearing a prosthetic penis in his nude scenes.
• Brenda Deiss died in February 2022 at age 60 from complications from a stroke. Although she never got to see Red Rocket (the movie was filmed in late 2020), the one-time secretary at NASA had said her favorite scene was where she sang the hymn “Hallelujah Square.”
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