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Shortly into Spun (2002), I had the overwhelming urge to shut it off. I probably should have done so, but kept hoping that it could not get any worse. I was terribly, utterly wrong. Because of my extreme distaste for this film, I am going to call one of my rare audibles and change up my usual review structure. It is easy enough to do here because there is no plot. The title refers to somebody who is strung out on the potent and powerfully addictive drug crystal meth. I have no idea if that is an official term, nor do I care to look it up. As the film proclaims at the beginning, it is based on truth and lies. So, you can take your pick as to whether or not that is what people on crystal meth benders are actually called. The only thing that happens in this entire film is people snorting the drug for days on end. Sure, other things occur. People drive places, there are cops involved at one point, and there is a whole lot of sexual content. Yet, the baseline (no pun intended) is always crystal meth. Even the police seem to be hooked on the stuff. There is not a single redeeming value in its entire run-time, not one, unless you need to scare someone straight with this movie. If anyone were to watch it and think, you know what, I want to start doing crystal meth, then we truly are doomed as a society.
I want to come down off my high horse a bit in talking about Spun. While I have never had any addictions of any kind, nor partook of any drugs (or alcohol or tobacco products), I do have some experience with substance abuse. Not to get too personal, but I have been to meetings for people who have loved ones with addictions. In my limited, but still relevant, interactions with these programs, the one thing that should be noted is that faith is a tool that is used in order to help people in these situations. The whole Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) movement, and its offshoots that extend into other things on which people get hooked, has distinct connections to Christianity. Though it was intended to be non-denominational, the movement was tailored on fellowship and eventually people making peace with a higher power. Many groups also meet in churches. Every parish I worked in had a chapter that rented out a space for weekly gatherings. AA is not intended to evangelize. At the same time, because of the prominent place God has had in Western culture for so many centuries, faith can be a contributing factor to what drives people to dabble in alcohol and drugs. We humans are fragile creatures, emotionally speaking. So many things happen to us for which we feel ill-equipped to handle. If a person grew up going to church, sometimes that person’s actions will lead them to believe that not even God cannot forgive their sins. This is appallingly far from reality. This brings me to Ross (Jason Schwartzman) in the film. He is, I suppose, the main character, which we will go with because he is the first person shown. In between snorting crystal meth, leaving a stripper handcuffed to his bed for days, and driving around his supplier, the Cook (Mickey Rourke), and his girlfriend Nikki (Brittany Murphy), Ross calls his ex-girlfriend Amy (Charlotte Ayanna). And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. And calls. He leaves messages each time. The vague implication is that his addiction is what drove her away, and her lack of communication keeps him returning to the drug. To this Catholic, the truth is obvious: he is grievously wounded and seeking out all the wrong sources to do something about that pain.
One thing Spun did remind me of is the need to pray for people dealing with such demons. I have no wish to sit in judgement of such people. That is not my place. At the same time, I do not need a movie like this one to recall the awfulness of some of these cases. Nobody does. There was a somewhat interesting way in which the frenzied state of somebody addicted to the drug behaves. That got old after the first ten times. There is so much objectionable material in this film that certain body parts and words were obfuscated. I am guessing that if it had been included, the film would have received an NC-17 rating. As it stands on the International Movie Database (IMDb), it is “unrated.” What would have made it somewhat (and I cannot emphasize that word enough) more palatable is if the characters would have had some realization of the errors of their ways. At least Trainspotting (1996), a movie about Scottish heroine addicts, had its main character kick the habit, albeit in a painful and disturbing manner. There is nothing like that in Spun, though like all addicts there is a scene where Ross and Nikki each claim they can quit any time. Instead, the film concludes with everyone on which it has focused falling asleep, the result of being up days on end doing nothing but crystal meth. No eating. No drinking. Just drugs and sex. I am sorry, I do not care who you are, but that does not make it a movie worth watching. Hence, I humbly beg you not to watch this movie. And if you are someone dealing with addiction, know that I am praying for you.