Stars: Cate Hughes, Tyler Rainey, Uneeda Arnold Director: Kirby McClure Producer/Distributor: Partizan
“If I could disappear, I would.”
From writer-director Kirby McClure, Spaghetti Junction is the latest to blend the elements of the socially realistic family drama with the surrealist sci-fi fantasy.
Spaghetti Junction follows amputee August (Cate Hughes) and her struggles with her older sister, her dad, and her overall wellbeing. With her life prospects diminished, her only satisfaction is her imagination. However, after a glance as a shooting star, or an epic flash of sorts, August is handed the presence of The Traveler (Tyler Rainey). With a look in his eyes that is both captivating as it is jading, this mysterious figure captures the interest of August, and swiftly drags her down to a reality beyond comprehension.
Spaghetti Junction opens in a somewhat vicious manner. Anger is present, but we don’t know why. An array of toxic masculinity is aggressively present and uncomfortable – ranging between the older sister’s sleazey boyfriend and their aggressive, slightly controlling dad, men are presented as the dicks they are. Protective parents can be great, but in the instance of Cameron McHarg’s Dave Greenfield, “Dad” is a bad role model for his two daughters.
Whereas the gripping drama entailed a well-crafted editing process between a video game and real car crash, the transition to surrealism turns to the bizarre with a literal delve into a bed mattress, a portal, leading to a boredom of nonsense characters. Whilst in this instance Spaghetti Junction becomes more theatrical and, perhaps, adventurous, the quality does seem to deteriorate. It is evident that this film is much better as a dysfunctional family drama.
Across the board, the acting is mostly superb. Even the vulgar characters are presented excellently. McHarg’s “Dad” character has, potentially, the most depth. For a character who can be good or bad at the flick of a switch, this can only be sold well or receive the right appreciation if the performance is right.
For what is an ambitious project, Spaghetti Junction unfortunately falls short. Its presence as a gripping, almost gritty family drama is a tough watch, though it possesses plenty of integrity. The subsequent transition to fantasy and surrealist sci-fi is way too inconsistent and mostly severely underwhelming. The further Spaghetti Junction delves into the surreal elements, the weaker the film becomes. Amputee representation is great, but it can’t save this film. August’s mindset is fascinating as her world is changing, but what she – and the viewer – is presented with, poses next to no interest.
Swan Song had its Manchester premiere at MANIFF 2022 on Sunday 13th March.
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