US 2021, 128 min Director Sean Baker
Filmmaker Sean Baker continues the hot streak he started with indie smashes Tangerine and The Florida Project (MVFF 2017) with this engrossing tragicomedy about a washed-up former porn actor who returns home to Texas. Simon Rex gives a revelatory performance as Mikey, who years ago followed dreams of stardom to L.A., and now pretends he’s a bigger deal than he actually was. Part character study, part social commentary—the contentious runup to the 2016 presidential election serves as the backdrop—Red Rocket is a brilliantly unflinching portrait of a hustler. It’s a testament to Rex’s sneaky charm that you almost root for this callous schemer. He’s matched by newcomer Suzanna Son, electric as a flirtatious teen Mikey tries to seduce. After its triumphant premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Baker’s latest exploration of American life is ready to introduce audiences to one of the year’s most fascinating scoundrels. You may despise Mikey, but you’ll never forget him. –Tim Grierson
Our Spotlight program features a screening of Red Rocket and an onstage conversation with Simon Rex.
Sponsored by GRUBER FAMILY FOUNDATION