Spun Jonas Akerlund
Published May 01, 2003Addicts call it cotton fever: a blood infection caused by injecting drugs laced with bacteria-contaminated cotton fibres. The side effects are usually a high fever and the shakes, along with a heady dose of disorientation. Although there aren't too many needles in the new hallucinatory drug-fest Spun (most of these speed freaks prefer the snort to the shoot), the ultimate effect is very similar to a bout of cotton fever: it might be an authentic sensation, but it's not necessarily a pleasurable one.
Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) stars as Ross, a varsity jacket-wearing tweaker in the no man's land of the north Los Angeles valley. Not much is known of Ross, save for his predilection for speed and his girlfriend in the city. The neighbourhood's top meth manufacturer, the Cook (a rejuvenated Mickey Rourke), harangues Ross into the job of chauffer for himself and his nubile girl, the emotionally fragile Nikki (Brittany Murphy). In between tooling them around in his brown Volvo, Ross manoeuvres his way through crazed dealers and users, a naked stripper left duct-taped and tied to his bed (in the movie's most tasteless bit), bull dykes in studded leather and meth-addicted cops.
Aside from a cast that brings to mind the world's most dangerous Gap ad (John Leguizamo, a grey flannel-toothed Mena Suvari, Almost Famous's Patrick Fugit, Deborah Harry, Eric Roberts) the only really noteworthy element of Spun is its visual treatment of the electrically charged amphetamine experience. With his first feature, Swedish music video director Akerlund giddily slashes and burns through a negligible story with laser quick cuts, frenetic close-ups and Marilyn Manson-style head thrashings on overexposed 16mm film. It's all so fashionably ugly, but, thankfully, the warmth of Schwartzman and (especially) Murphy manages to save the movie from a mere post-modern exercise in paranoid emptiness. Strung out on shattered dreams of misbegotten love, they lend Spun a centre just this side of hollow. (Mongrel Media)