Spun Movie Review

Wes Anderson fans will barely recognize Spun protagonist, if you can call him that, Jason Schwartzman. Though he's been in a handful of forgettable roles since claiming cult status with his breakthrough in 1998's Rushmore, he's back to center frame as a speed-addicted, goalless youngster. Though this time around he somehow manages to snag a buxom blonde dancer and tie her to a bed for a few days instead of merely pining away for the older woman.

But with an eclectic cast that includes John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, and Mickey Rourke, Spun is more about exuberant editing providing a humorous glimpse into a small, bored, drug community than a focus on any particular acting or writing talent. Once the pizzazz of quick cuts and graphic novel touches has washed over the normal tell-tale signs of substance abuse by all the characters, you're left with another drug movie that feels as if it's trying too hard to be Trainspotting, without the spiffy production design.

To its credit, the cast does a stellar job of being interesting to watch, even if there's nothing particularly new to their rote, mounting paranoia and instant gratification reflexes. Schwartzman's range is admirable beyond the fact that he's obviously worked out quite a bit since being "the geek" a few years ago. Leguizamo's hyperactivity translates well into the type of unpredictability we've come to expect from a dealer, and his relationship with girlfriend Suvari actually has unexpected moments of charm and laughter.

The direction, from newcomer Jonas Åkerlund, shows a stronger sense of style merging with content than one would expect out of a previous video music director. The film holds well under just the right amount of visual grit and the transitions between personal hallucination and returning to the present are tightly glued.

What drags in this speed scene is not the cohesion or characters but the story that binds them on screen. Once Ross (Schwartzman) has kept his unfortunate date naked and tied to the bed the first time, it becomes tiresome to concentrate on his repetitively poor reasoning and her struggling over the next several times he returns to find her there still. Why every movie based on drugs requires a scene in the toilet is also beyond comprehension, though it is rare that a film will tackle constipation as a side effect of using. Ross's dreamy notions of his ex-girlfriend are also easy to anticipate, as is their conclusion, so the buildup also becomes irritating.

However, Spun is an energetic, entertaining work with people well worth watching for under two hours. It intermittently tries the attention span, but it's also a respectful enough combination between actors and director that you don't feel cheated after sitting through it. If you care enough, you'll find dropped hints on deeper issues glanced over with a frivolousness that attempts to keep judgmental notions from encroaching too far into enjoyment. Because you can read between the lines, or simply take it all at face value and come out realizing that Spun isn't taking itself any more seriously than the characters within take their own lives. Expect much rapid eye movement and automatically raised eyebrows. Some fun spice includes brief stints by Deborah Harry, Eric Roberts, and a cameo by Pornstar subject Ron Jeremy.

American beauty.


Comments

Spun Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2003

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