Already being labelled as one of the best films of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Sean Baker’s Red Rocket received a five-minute standing ovation following its premiere on Wednesday night (14th July).
In a brief speech to the audience, Baker remarked: “It’s amazing to be here at the Cannes Film Festival, especially this year, in which we’re seeing cinema come back,” before announcing his joy to be back in front of the silver screen, “It feels so great to be back in a movie theatre”.
Baker’s latest film, following his award-winning Florida Project in 2017 and trans-drama Tangerine shot just two years earlier, tracks the life of Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), a narcissistic porn star who returns to his Texas home only to be influenced by a teenager named Strawberry (Suzanna Son). His current filmography is often marked with wandering narratives and open-ended conclusions, leading for Baker to be the recipient of plenty of angry film fans.
This trend will continue with his latest project, Red Rocket, though Baker is confident that he will receive good support from distributors A24, commenting: “They’re a fearless company, and I think they’re going to take anything that comes our way head on”. Continuing, the director noted, “I know we’re tackling tough subjects here, and I know there are themes and images that are triggering in this film, I get it. But again, it’s part of the discussion… we’re just going to see how audiences take it. I understand it’s going to be divisive, and I understand I’m going to get some hate mail, it’s OK”.
Sean Baker also fiercely defended his slow-paced, open-ended stories, commenting: “I like to be challenged when seeing a film…I want to think about the film. If it’s incredibly literal, it doesn’t allow me to do any of the thinking after the fact”. The filmmaker also went on to explain his reasons for setting the film in Southern America during the run-up to the polarising 2016 election, observing that, “No matter what side of the aisle you’re on in the U.S., we did not see the Trump win coming”.
Elaborating, he added: “It was a major twist, almost like a movie twist. So, looking back at that time, it was almost like looking back at an innocence, looking back at a naivety. So I found that a fascinating structure of where to place my film”.
Currently without an official release date, we hope to see Red Rocket released worldwide before the end of the year.