Spun

Swedish director Jonas Akerlund's high-wire portrait of crystal meth addicts on a three-day bender is enthralling, if ultimately pointless. Middle-class Ross (Jason Schwartzman) thinks he's a weekender, but his speed-fueled weekends last seven days, and one blends seamlessly into the next. He's dropped out of college, lost his girlfriend and lives in a motel...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Swedish director Jonas Akerlund's high-wire portrait of crystal meth addicts on a three-day bender is enthralling, if ultimately pointless. Middle-class Ross (Jason Schwartzman) thinks he's a weekender, but his speed-fueled weekends last seven days, and one blends seamlessly into the next. He's dropped out of college, lost his girlfriend and lives in a motel somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, dating cranked-out strippers and dodging his disapproving next door neighbor (Deborah Harry). All he has left of his former life is his battered car, which gets him in good with the Cook (Mickey Rourke), who cooks up methamphetamine in the run-down hotel room he shares with Nikki and her yappy dog. One minute, Ross is trying in vain to score from discombobulated Spider Mike (John Leguizamo), whose overuse of his own product has buzzing around like a drunken wasp. The next minute, wide-eyed Nikki (Brittany Murphy) makes Ross an offer: If he'll work for her boyfriend, the Cook, as a driver, the Cook will keep him in crystal. And so Ross spends the next three days sleepless and fried, ferrying Nikki and the Cook through increasingly grotesque circles of tweaker hell. Like ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE (1998) and DRUGSTORE COWBOY (1989), this is a junkie's eye view of the day-to-day business of addiction (speed freak Will de los Santos co-wrote the script), amped up with a formidable bag of scabrous tricks borrowed from TRAINSPOTTING (1995) and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000). Akerlund (best known for Prodigy's controversial "Smack My Bitch Up" video) and cinematographer Eric Broms aspire to a kind of squalid, blackly comic pop-surrealism. There's nothing on TV but wrestling and COPS-style reality show "Bust," and familiar but out-of-context faces — former Judas Priest front man Rob Halford, porn legend Ron Jeremy, alterna-rocker Billy Corgan (also the film's composer) — swim in a visual soup of comic book-style animation, accelerated motion, amplified sound, vertiginous zooms and stuttering edits. You can't accuse Spun of making speed addiction look glamorous, but it has a powerful, road accident appeal: where else could you see beauties like Mena Suvari and Murphy look so smeared and wasted; Eric Roberts dragged out in a blonde-bombshell wig and Sophia Loren glasses, flanked by AMG-style muscle boys; or professional oddballs Alexis Arquette (looking uncannily like the late Freddy Mercury) and Peter Stormare playing doped-up cops rampaging for their "Bust" video crew? That freak-show kick is just a little too compelling for an up-and-up cautionary tale.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Swedish director Jonas Akerlund's high-wire portrait of crystal meth addicts on a three-day bender is enthralling, if ultimately pointless. Middle-class Ross (Jason Schwartzman) thinks he's a weekender, but his speed-fueled weekends last seven days, and on… (more)

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