“Drop the cheesepuffs, Ma’am.”
The film Spun from director Jonas Akerland is a wild ride through the lives of several Crystal Meth users in Los Angeles. The main character, Ross (Jason Schwartzman) goes to the graffiti-covered, squalid house of dealer, Spider Mike (John Leguizamo). Spider Mike, who obviously tries too much of his own product, lives with bizarre and repugnant girlfriend, Cookie (Mena Suvari). Ross, who just wants to buy some Meth, is coerced into a relationship with the effervescent stripper, Nikki (Brittany Murphy). Nikki, who is the most functional character in the film (she works) is the girlfriend of “The Cook” (Mickey Rourke). Before long, Ross, the possessor of a tatty, brown Volvo, becomes the unofficial chauffeur for The Cook. Ross ferries The Cook back and forth across town seeking ingredients for Meth which The Cook manufactures in his hotel room.
Spun had my attention from beginning to end. None of the characters in this film are dull. John Leguizamo’s kinetic energy is perfect for the role of the tattooed, paranoid Spider Mike whose inability to concentrate frustrates everyone. Spider Mike’s hysteria is just below the surface–ready to explode, and he seems barely held in check. There’s Frisbee (Patrick Fugit) the acne-ridden, video-game addicted youth who hangs out with Spider Mike, and Deborah Harry plays a nosy neighbour with definite theories about men. However, Mickey Rourke as The Cook was fantastic and entirely, utterly believable. It’s great to see him playing a role that fits him like a glove, and Rourke’s laid-back approach underscores the single-minded focus of The Cook. The film includes the obligatory stripper-around-the-pole scenes, and nudity, sex and profanity abound. This is not some “Hollywood-goes-to-the-ghetto” film–this is raw, gritty, and very, very dark. However, the film is also hilarious, and this is why I loved it so much. Two Latina girls squabble over men while serving behind the counter at a local mini-market, and two policemen lead raids for the Cops programme. The portrayal of the Meth user was accurate and unmerciful–this film succeeded where Salton Sea did not. It takes sheer genius to portray the very ugly world of Meth and still scrape humour out from these dregs of humanity. If you decide to watch this film, DON’T get the rated version–it airbrushes human body parts and bleeps out some of the swear words–go for the unrated version. If you liked Requiem For A Dream there’s an excellent chance you’ll enjoy Spun too.