Friday 01 January 2010
David Mackenzie, whose haunting 2003 mystery Young Adam promised so much, has gone to La-La land to tell the story of a young(ish) hustler in Spread.
Ashton Kutcher plays Nikki, a lithe, good-looking gigolo whose preening self-regard is almost as irksome as the skinny black braces he wears the whole time.
Explaining his seduction routines in bored voiceover, Nikki describes himself as "homeless, carless and completely unreliable", but when he can stay rent-free at a fabulous house overlooking the Hollywood Hills in return for regular al fresco sex with its owner, fortysomething attorney Samantha (Anne Heche), he's not unduly bothered by his vagrant status.
The screenwriters Jason Hall and Paul Kolsby are perhaps aiming to recreate the spirit of Richard Gere in American Gigolo, or even Warren Beatty in Shampoo, from an era when transactional sex was a lifestyle choice, like surfing, or gardening. For a while its jauntily cynical tone exerts a repulsive fascination, even if it's pretty coy about sex's usual concomitant, drugs.
Once it sniffs a moral in the offing, however, Spread starts to go soft. Nikki flirts with a hot-eyed young waitress, Heather (Margarita Levieva, siren of last year's great Adventureland), and then falls hard for her, only to discover that she's actually a more ruthless operator than he is. With astonishing suddenness the boy wonder finds that he's overdrawn on his modest charm – "You're six inches and a pretty face," Samantha tells him candidly – and that the journey from clubland cynosure to tired "man-whore" is shorter than he imagined. This might have been affecting if we could believe that Nikki had a heart, but his obsession with Heather seems a merely narcissistic yearning – the hunter captured by the game. When he isn't half-naked Kutcher wears clothes so horrible (those braces have the power to sicken) that you wish he'd go back to being half-naked. He's not a bad actor, in a lazy, self-conscious sort of way, but he's being propelled through a plot that has no guile, no subtlety, nothing at all, in fact, beyond a barely understood desire to punish him.
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate