Directed & Edited By: Sean Baker
Written By: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch
Cinematography: Drew Daniels
Cast: Simon Rex, Suzanna Son, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss, Ethan Darbone, Brittany Rodriguez, Judy Hill, Shih-Ching Tsou
Finding himself down and out in Los Angeles, ex-porn star Mikey Saber decides to crawl back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas, where his estranged wife and mother-in-law are living. Just as this dysfunctional family seems to be making things work, Mikey meets a young woman named Strawberry working the cash register at a local doughnut shop. He falls right back into his old habits.
While this is a good film, it is also disturbing and unsettling at times. While offering some humor as it goes along. As it shows no one is not any situation just one thing at one time. It is never quite that simple.
The film offers Simon Rex, in a comeback of a performance. Probably the most dramatic role he has ever had a chance to play. His character is totally unlikeable, a natural-born hustler. He is a smooth talker even though most of the time he is obvious. Though his performance is captivating. As the film more revolves around his character you wish the film was just as lively and unpredictable as his performance and character but needs a kind of normalcy to bounce him off of and compare him to.
He is good at what he does because as soon as you like him or fall for him or even feel sorry for him for whatever reason. He does something that reminds you of how deceptive and selfish he is. As even in the. For comedic scenes of comeuppance, you laugh but then ate reminded how unlikeable he can be. As this is not a film about redemption. Just that most people Don’t change.
This film is more of a character study than necessarily plot-oriented. As usual with writer-director Sean baker’s films, this is more of a humanistic film to show this man’s life and the people around him from his past.
The film uses non-actors making it feel more lived in and believable. Even as most of the characters are fascinating themselves we get snippets of them. More or less as they move in and out of the main characters’ plans and life.
At heart, the film offers a twisted love story that is at least one side in a seduction meant for one to prosper through the subjugation of the other. Here in the form of an 18-year-old female high school senior who he romances. It makes the film even more uncomfortable as even though the actress is older she still looks young. So the sex scenes feel uncomfortable. Even if her character isn’t as innocent as she seems. You can still tell she is in over her head.
The movie doesn’t judge any of the characters or situations. It remains neutral, leaving it up to the audience to decide how they feel.
What works for the film is that by the end you will feel some kind of reaction. Good or bad it definitely will make you feel something and I am betting not happy.