Rotting in the Sun” is a semi-satirical film born out of a chance meeting in Mexico between Sebastián Silva and Jordan Firstman, each plays a spectacularly caricatured and flawed version of themself.
Silva wrote it alongside Pedro Peirano whom he wrote with while creating his 2009 success “The Maid”. Joining Silva in the cast is another familiar face from “The Maid”, the leading lady herself, Catalina Saavedra.
It is a real pleasure to see Silva and Jordan present such exaggerated fictional characters, showing that they don’t take themselves too seriously.
The two are rising talents who took to the roles with ease. Silva hones in on an inner ugliness that is hauntingly palpable. Despite the character’s many faults, we are drawn to him and want to follow his story.He plays a self-aware but self-deprecating filmmaker named Sebastián. He struggles with a compromising ketamine addiction and suicidal ideation that is often brushed off because of its comical delivery.
Sebastián is a suffering artist living in an expensive gentrified area of Mexico City. Within the first ten minutes, you learn that he is becoming increasingly disillusioned with society, life, and his place in the creative world.
He Googles himself in the opening scenes only to find someone far more famous at the top of the search results.
Jordan’s character is a larger-than-life influencer with a huge following, high self-esteem, and zero inhibitions, and zero filter. The up-and-coming actor plays it to a T and although wildly exaggerated Jordan presents the character so tangibly that we all recogniz someone like him in our lives.
The two meet when Sebastián decides to visit a popular gay nudist beach to escape the confines of his Mexico City studio and find inspiration.
The Zicatela beach scenes should come with a fair warning. The audience is greeted with a plethora of full-frontal male nudity and casual gay sex scenes from the get-go. We are given them from Sebastiáns perspective which provides immersion and adds to the realness of the film.
Meeting on the beach moments after a near-death experience Jordan decides it must be fate for the two to cross paths.
He had been watching one of Sebastiáns movies the night before and now here they were under such high-stakes circumstances.
Of course, the intense feelings are amplified by the fact that the pair are both high as kites!
Jordan pitches a show idea and invites Sebastián to a party where the two have an altercation and Sebastian returns home for a meeting with HBO.To his dismay, HBO is more interested in the pitch involving the influencer than Sebastiáns own ideas.
He reluctantly reaches back out to Jordan and plans to meet.
From there the film takes a dramatic turn as Sebastián falls accidentally to his death.The focus is immediately shifted to Catalina’s character the building’s maid Vero, who is desperate to keep her job and pay for her family’s medical bills.
Once again, Saavedra’s sincere acting skills take the limelight as they did in 2009’s “The Maid”.The whole thing is filmed in a handheld manner that follows the character’s movements closely.
There are clever transitions and lots of moments where Sebastian listlessly scrolls through a bombardment of viral videos and memes on his phone.Beneath the surface “Rotting in the Sun” is much more than a parody story filled with gratuitous nudity and drug binging.
It makes a clever commentary on gentrification, income disparity, and the separation of class. It also holds a mirror up (exaggerated or otherwise) to modern obsessions with the ego and social media.
Ultimately, the cast does a stand-up job of making us all a little more self-aware.