Song of the Day #5,001: ‘Bye Bye Bye’ – Suzanna Son

It took me until the first week of March 2022 to catch up with every 2021 film on my watchlist, but I did it. The last one I got in was multiple Oscar nominee Drive My Car, which was fine but in my view undeserving of the hype.

I felt that way about a lot of highly-praised 2021 films, including Dune, The Power of the Dog, Licorice Pizza and Passing.

But that doesn’t mean the year overall was a disappointment. On the contrary, I saw a ton of great movies and had to struggle to settle on a top ten. It pained me to leave deserving titles on the outside looking in, so let me pour one out for In the Heights, Zola, The Tragedy of Macbeth, The Last Duel and Mass.

I’m happy where I ended up, though. My list includes documentaries, animation, comedy, drama, two foreign language films and a musical. People might be slow to return to theaters, but great films are still being made. Over the next two weeks, I’ll count down some of my recent favorites.

Best Films of 2021
#10 – Red Rocket

Writer-director Sean Baker has carved out a fascinating niche in the three films of his I’ve seen (Tangerine, The Florida Project and Red Rocket). He depicts places you’d never want to go and people you’d never want to meet. But he does it with such empathy and such attention to detail that you feel enriched by the experience.

He also populates his films with non-professional actors, coaxing touching and authentic performances out of “regular” people without a hint of condescension. In that way, he’s like a scuzzier Chloe Zhao.

As in the previous two films, Red Rocket focuses on a sex worker. Former porn star Mikey Saber, played brilliantly by Simon Rex, is a man as charming and polite as he is selfish and toxic. Returning to his hometown of Texas City, he bears the bruises from a beating he no doubt deserved.

He ingratiates his way back into the life, and house, of his estranged wife and mother-in-law, intending to find work and go straight. That doesn’t last. Unable to land a legitimate job, he starts pushing drugs for a local dealer and ends up falling for a 17-year-old donut shop salesgirl named Strawberry (a winning Suzanna Son). In her, he finds somebody who adores him unreservedly (it’s too soon for her to know better) and also a potential ticket back into the porn industry.

This all sounds seedy as hell, and it is, but Baker and his cast deliver big laughs and a buoyancy you wouldn’t expect from the subject matter.

He also weaves in some sly social commentary. The film is set during the summer of 2016, during the run-up to the presidential election, and images and sounds of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seep through in multiple scenes.

Mikey is a slick con artist and a user of women, but you kind of like him. I wonder how far could somebody like that could get in America today?

[Verse 1]
I’m doing this tonight
You’re probably gonna start a fight
I know this can’t be right
Hey baby, come on
I loved you endlessly
And you weren’t there for me
So now it’s time to leave
And make it alone

I know that I can’t take no more
It ain’t no lie
I wanna see you out that door
Baby, bye bye bye

Don’t wanna be a fool for you
Just another player in your game for two
You may hate me but it ain’t no lie
Baby, bye bye bye
Don’t really wanna make it tough
I just wanna tell you that I’ve had enough
Might sound crazy but it ain’t no lie
Baby, bye bye bye

[Verse 2]
Just hit mе with the truth
Now! Girl, you’re more than wеlcome to
So give me one good reason
Baby, come on
I live for you and me
And now I really come to see
That life would be much better
When you’re gone

I know that I can’t take no more
It ain’t no lie
I wanna see you out that door
Baby, bye bye bye

You may hate me but it ain’t no lie
Baby, bye bye bye

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,001: ‘Bye Bye Bye’ – Suzanna Son

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I was not as over the moon as you and others were about The Florida Project, and I didn’t see Tangerine. However, the high praise by both you and Maddie has me intrigued to check this one out.

  2. Peg says:

    Just reading your review and remembering this movie makes me want to take a shower. Just couldn’t stand it. I did like Florida Project though.

  3. Amy says:

    So funny… I definitely need to see what all the fuss is about.

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