“Red Rocket”, the parasite

Simon Rex plays a magnificent loser in Sean Baker’s award-winning film at the Deauville Film Festival.

The welcome is not the warmest when Mikey arrives without warning at his ex-wife’s house. Broke, battered, he will use his charm and his glibness once again to get this ex, who has already had a hard time with him in the past, to give in and convince her to put him up for a few days. It’s a mistake, she knows it, but she can’t help but open the door of her dingy house to her former youthful love, this ex-husband with whom they had once started out together in porn.

Former MTV host turned actor and musician, Simon Rex plays this Mikey in “Red Rocket”, a film by Sean Baker (released on February 2), selected in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and awarded at the Deauville American Film Festival (Jury Prize and Critics’ Prize). A former porn actor in California, where “everything went to hell”, Mikey makes an inglorious return to his hometown, Texas City, a sad industrial suburb. “Mister Hollywood” pretends to be looking for a job, but he’s mostly looking for easy money, tricks, hanging out on an old bike and doing a little drug dealing.

An America of the downtrodden

Simon Rex gives all his energy to this drunken, lying, scheming, excessive, egotistical guy. A character with no morals whatsoever, who, apart from his survival, cares about nothing and nobody. A harmful parasite, the kind to get into trouble for sure; a magnificent loser who still has the ability to first make himself sympathetic, then to take the blows and get back up. His ex-wife quickly regrets having taken him in, and one headache and argument after another. Especially since Mikey has spotted a young and charming waitress in a donut store; Strawberry, 17 years old, played by Suzanna Son. He could see himself making a comeback with the young lady as the new porn star.

It’s a certain America, the one of the downtrodden that Sean Baker evokes in his films (“Starlet,” “Tangerine,” “Florida Project”…), including “Red Rocket,” which he deliberately set in 2016, a few months before a certain Donald Trump was elected. “A condensed version of America”, filmed in its industrial universe, port, refineries, factories… A natural setting that provides a certain cinematic aestheticism. Mikey is so constantly on the move that he becomes tiring, but his agitation gives the film its rhythm, which never stops, never settles, carried away in a headlong rush.

Patrick TARDIT

“Red Rocket”, a film by Sean Baker, starring Simon Rex (released on February 2).

The young Suzanna Son plays Strawberry, a charming waitress in a donut store, whom Mikey imagines as a future porn star
The young Suzanna Son plays Strawberry, a charming waitress in a donut store, whom Mikey imagines as a future porn star
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