Spun (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/09/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Stylishly shot but ultimately empty drug-fuelled drama, partly redeemed by some good performances.

Spun is the first feature from acclaimed music video director Jonas Akerlund and it received its premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival in August of this year. It’s visually impressive and boasts a superb cast, but fails to get past the fact that watching a bunch of people messed up on drugs just isn’t that interesting.

Nerdy Drug User

Jason Schwartzman (from Rushmore) stars as Ross, a nerdy drug user who needs to score some crystal meth. He hooks up with low-life dealer Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), who is deep in the midst of his own drug-fuelled paranoia and has just run out.

So instead he drives over to see The Cook (Mickey Rourke) with The Cook’s girlfriend Cookie (Brittany Murphy) and ends up becoming his reluctant errand boy for a few days, in return for being kept high as a very high thing indeed.

To signify the effect of drug-taking Akerlund repeatedly uses the same combination of slamming sound effects, cuts to dilating pupils and speeded up film that Darren Aronofsky used in Requiem For A Dream. The problem with Spun is that it seems to happen every five minutes and quickly becomes tiresome, although the use of animation is original. Similarly, the entire film is shot in washed-out colours that depict the hazy not-quite-real world that the characters inhabit.

Ill-Advised Dump On Camera

The script and the plot are both a little disappointing, but the acting is good. Mena Suvari is particularly impressive and does a splendid job of demolishing her wholesome American Pie-type image, although the scene where she takes a dump on camera was probably ill-advised.

Brittany Murphy is reliably quirky and shrill as always but it’s Mickey Rourke who steals the film with his role as the cowboy hat-wearing one-man drug factory. In fact, it’s fair to say that Rourke is on the verge of a comeback as a character actor, what with this and his scene-stealing performances in Animal Factory and Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

There’s also good support from an unrecogniseable Patrick Fugit (from Almost Famous) as Frisbee and a great extended cameo by Debbie Harry as Schwartzman’s lesbian neighbour with a profitable sideline.

It’s not a total disaster by any means - the film certainly has its funny moments (such as an aggressive off-licence customer getting his just desserts twice) – but it’s very much a case of all style and no substance as it doesn’t really have much to say and there’s no real plot to speak of. Still, it’s watchable enough and worth seeing for the performances.

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Spun (18)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 14:40

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