Sugar Town Allison Anders and Kurt Voss
Published Feb 01, 2000Sugar Town is a clever portrayal of the Los Angeles music scene, sending up both its sleazy side of sex and drugs and the New Age fake spirituality that is so prevalent. The film interconnects several story-lines featuring musicians at various stages of success ranging from aspiring stars to studio players to washed-up rock gods. Linking this together is Gwen (Jade Gordon), a social-climbing phony relentlessly pursuing super-stardom. The cast blends actors with real musicians, who mostly play fictionalised versions of themselves to great effect. John Taylor (Duran Duran), Michael Des Barres (Power Station), and Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet) play has-been stars of the '80s who, now old and forgotten, start a band in an attempt to reclaim their fame. John Doe (X) also appears, along with actors such as Rosanna Arquette and Ally Sheedy. The acting is uniformly good, making the cast of likeable but flawed characters believable and engaging to watch. The only exception is Jade Gordon's Gwen, who is a little too evil to be true and ends up becoming more of a caricature. The film is a success in many ways, capturing accurately the tenor of the L.A. music scene and introducing all the characters into situations that test their moral judgement by demanding where, or if, they draw the line in their quest for stardom. The whole of Sugar Town's parts is somewhat unsatisfying. Shot in three weeks, and dealing with the time and resource constraints inherent to independent filmmaking, the film doesn't have the time to fully develop each storyline. This makes every conclusion seem either abrupt or facile. The film tries to take on too much, and suffers for its ambitions.