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Spun (18)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Jonas Åkerlund and Mena Suvari commentary; Jonas Åkerlund and Creighton Vero commentary; Deleted scenes; 'Cook Show' trailer featuring Mickey Rourke; UK theatrical trailer; On set photography gallery; Poster competition gallery; MTV party spy-cam; Scene access; Interactive menus.

A DRUGS drama, from the director of Prodigy’s controversial ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ video, probably tells you all you need to know about what to expect from Spun, an intentionally hip, but ultimately vacuous movie, about America’s methamphetamine epidemic.

That is to say, lots of flashy visuals, designed to accentuate the effects of speed, and plenty of rapid-fire editing, wrapped around the story of a group of addicts on a monster three-day run of substance abuse and self-destruction.

Primarily, there’s Jason Schwartzman’s 20-something college drop-out, Ross, whose chance meeting with Brittany Murphy’s dizzy stripper, while hanging out at the house of John Leguizamo’s local drug dealer, puts him into contact with Mickey Rourke’s Meth manufacturer, Cook, and sends him into a three-day whirlwind of drug abuse, in which he will lose track of time, morality and his very being.

Surrounding him are the usual group of social misfits, from Deborah Harry’s sex-line lesbian, to Mena Suvari’s constipated junkie, who consistently find themselves flirting with reality, and one step away from being busted by Peter Stormare’s equally deranged cop.

Sound like fun? It can be, especially if you’re a fan of the Trainspotting/Requiem For A Dream school of film-making, which attempts to be innovative, while shedding fresh light on a dark culture.

Taking as its starting point, the place where Trainspotting ‘didn’t dare go’, Spun is director, Jonas Åkerlund's take on a real-life story, told through the eyes of crystal meth freak, William De Los Santos, which attempts to deliver a ‘super macro close-up view of a sexually-charged street world’.

Hence, viewers are supposed to be stunned and dazzled by the sight of former American Pie sweetheart, Suvari, attempting to overcome her constipation, while her amorous boyfriend (Leguizamo) masturbates into a sock, and by Rushmore star, Schwartzman’s descent into drug-induced hell.

But they might equally be numb to the consequences by the time the final credits roll, given that the film which results packs all the emotional punch of one of Åkerlund's spaced-out characters.

Indeed, Spun is the cinematic equivalent of junk food - a guilty pleasure, at best, but one which leaves you feeling empty pretty soon afterwards.

And it frequently tip-toes the line between good taste and bad, seemingly going for shock tactics in favour of everything else. Scenes in which Schwartzman essentially kidnaps a stripper, for sex, and then leaves her tied up at home for days on end, while played for laughs, are actually quite disturbing, while there are also moments when the hip young cast occasionally feel as though they are trying to break away from established images (Suvari is especially culpable).

In its favour, however, the movie has Mickey Rourke, who strides through proceedings wearing the look of a man who could well have lived the type of life depicted, and who consistently reminds people of why he continues to be rated as such a fine actor. His sleazy, thuggish drug supplier is a masterful turn.

As a self-billed ‘one hundred and fifty miles an hour trip into the raging Meth-pumped heart of Amerika’, Spun just about succeeds in realising its ambition, but it will undoubtedly leave you feeling as ‘spun’ as its protagonists. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is now up for you to decide before going in.

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