Red Rocket

Red Rocket ★★★★

Closer to "Tangerine" than to "The Florida Project" (and all the better for it) as an engrossing warts-and-all odyssey of a desperate, swaggering hustler across a luminously florid landscape of American poverty. You like him, you hate him, you understand him, you can't get enough of his slimy adventures.

Filmed in such an eye-catching way, making tactile use of its authentic suburban Texas setting, being funny and depressing and suspenseful and romantic and creepy but not really trying to lean far into any particular genre because it's confident in itself, grabbing these sensationally naturalistic performances from everyone involved, and offering a shot at credibility to a guy like Simon Rex (who I only remember as one of the obnoxious putzes from the putrid "Scary Movie" sequels), who from now on I can refer to instead as the unironically triumphant star of a pretty great Sean Baker film (Rex is really outstanding, bravo sir), this does share a lot in common with what made Baker's last two projects so memorable as well, but I think it's the finest consolidation of these tactics yet.

A mesmerizing ride with socio-political undertones, controversial character choices, an immersive brilliance that's what makes this medium as a whole so alluring, and one big flopping cock. Come 'n' get it!

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