EIFF 2009: Spread
The Hollywood debut of EIFF alumnus David Mackenzie, Spread is a surprisingly entertaining parable about a vacuous but louche LA hustler. The supremely cynical Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) has the calculating guile of a seasoned lothario. He targets older professional women who let him become their live-in lover, then exploits his privileged position. But Spread is self-consciously karmic, and soon enough Nikki encounters the audacious Heather (Margarita Levieva) who turns his own tricks against him. By the third act of Jason Dean Hall's tightly structured, well balanced script, Nikki is brought to his knees in a sublime twist. Mackenzie's treatment is subtle and intelligent, especially for a story which could so easily become as shallow as its subject. His camera captures the sterility of the city, and the soulless aggression of sexual transactions. There has always been a darkness in Mackenzie's films, but here it is softened to suit the popular palette. And though complex inner struggle has been usurped by a more linear character arc, Kutcher's performance is compelling and authentic. Spread is sometimes predictable and its gender politics are a matter of personal taste. But it's a wild ride!
Showing as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009.http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk