Rotting in the Sun review – bold and brilliant influencer satire


The impish Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva returns with a sharp thriller about an influencer who turns detective after a filmmaker he’s involved with goes missing.

It’s been too long since the Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva has been in our midst, and he returns with a palm-sweating satirical comedy in which the most heinous, grotesque social media celebrity you could ever imagine (gay YouTuber and short filmmaker Jordan Firstman, playing a self-mocking version of himself) is not only salvaged, but positively deified.

Despite its succession of pitch-black plot machinations covering artistic rot, moral rot, civic rot and familial rot, Silva ends on a moment of transcendent hope, suggesting that even the most self-involved person in the world can, with ample struggle, have their head prized from between their ass cheeks.

Sliva plays a filmmaker who takes his anger out on his mutt and his cleaner Vero (Catalina Saavedra, star of the director’s more slick 2007 breakthrough, The Maid). A chance meeting with Firstman while hesitantly cruising on a gay beach retreat sees him railroaded into collaborating with this wildly irritating and self-confident media node.

And when HBO turns down all his A-material, he’s forced to roll out the Firstman project which… they love. And at that point the film takes a mad and brilliant turn, shifting away from Silva and towards Firstman as he is forced to deal with a dark situation in his own inimitable, slightly clueless, but eventually admirably dogged way. It’s a film which sets up a lot of easy targets, but shifts its aim at the last second to take on – and bullseye – a whole lot of hard ones.

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Published 14 Sep 2023

Tags: Rotting in the Sun Sebastián Silva


We’ve seen nothing from Silva since pre-Covid. Is this his big return?


Takes a little time to get going, but a bold and brilliant twist takes this to a higher plateau of intelligence.

In Retrospect.

Very sharp, and Firstman is bang-on as the social celeb who comes good.

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