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Spread Reviews

Reviewed By: Derek Armstrong

Not all the beautiful people who move to Hollywood make it -- but that doesn't mean they have to become waiters, bartenders, or porn stars, either. Spread is director David Mackenzie's window into the lifestyle of those physically blessed specimens who sleep their way into opulent residences, without actually calling it prostitution, and the enviable decadence a life like this entails -- at least on the surface. For awhile, the movie does cast a spell of fancy cars, infinity pools, and hip soirees. In fact, in a stunning example of technique, director of photography Steven Poster opens with a four-minute Steadicam shot through one such soirée -- up stairs, down corridors, breaking away from Nicki (Ashton Kutcher), and returning to him again. It's an absolutely entrancing way to lay the groundwork for Jason Dean Hall's story. But once Nicki's world view inevitably needs upending, Spread loses steam and becomes boring. This is also when Anne Heche more or less leaves the story. Given Heche's magnetic performance as Samantha, Nicki's most recent mark, that can't be a coincidence. It's supposed to represent growth that Nicki turns his attentions to Heather (Margarita Levieva), a person his own age in his own circumstances, but that's when the picture nose-dives. Ironically (though not surprisingly), we're drawn in by the flashy portion of the movie, which we're supposed to find seductive yet morally contemptible, then lose interest once conventional morality and actual substance rear their heads. Because Heche does such a good job winning our sympathy -- we think she'll be better than Nicki's other marks, because she's sarcastic and unflappable -- it's all the more disappointing when Samantha is equally victimized by blatant usury, and more importantly, hurt by it. So not only do we give up on Nicki, we give up on the movie.