Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews


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Chick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-yellow-smChick-O-Meter-grey-sm Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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In the film Spread, the titular word can mean several things: fancy digs, a great buffet, and the obvious sexual implication. The story follows the seemingly effortless though calculated methods employed by a professional “user.”

Nikki (Ashton Kutcher) is long on looks but short on cash. He’s got no home, no car, barely any material possessions besides his body, which he uses like bait to lure successful older women into financing his borrowed lifestyle.

He lives off of wealthy women, playing them like a complicated game. He knows how to flatter, seduce and even how to sleep-smile in the morning to persuade them to let him stay in bed (while they go to work or play). Then, he wakes up to a great spread, courtesy of his well-serviced flavor-of-the-month.

The current flavor is well-heeled attorney Samantha (Anne Heche), whose digs are so lavish, that she boasts that the house once belonged to acclaimed film director Peter Bogdanovich. Nikki settles in for a long ride in every respect except the one involving self.

One day this kept commodity comes across Heather (Margarita Levieva) an improbably attractive waitress, and is smitten by her looks and disinterested manner. Nikki’s not used to apathy from women and is intrigued, until he discovers that Heather knows a thing or two about playing the game herself. She drives a luxurious car (tips must be good) with large, expensive cigars in the ashtray. New York connections call and she’s off in a flash.

Of course Nikki loses his heart for once, his cool demeanor and Teflon-coating cracking under the discomfort. Following Heather to New York will seemingly make it all better, except that these are romantic mercenaries we’re talking about here, with vey little honor to spare.

Spread is full of graphic sex between Nikki and his cohorts, whether they’re prey or just for play. He’s literally open to anything it takes to qualify as an indispensable adornment for his 40-something “clients.” Sex with them is serious business. Sex with a friend can be more whimsical, such as when he watches a televised sporting event with a nude girl (except for the football helmet she’s wearing) who performs oral sex on Nikki during the commercials. Then Samantha comes home unexpectedly.

This is the rise and fall (pun intended) of a new generation of gigolo. It’s a story of survival and disappointment and love thwarted by money and power. It’s about an empty life full of excess that bankrupts itself among the riches it covets. Welcome to L.A., a place where (we learn from Nikki’s own narration), the expectation is that life is like living in a Van Halen video.

Ashton Kutcher immerses himself in the mindset of his character. Nikki is alternately serious and bored during the conveyance of his carnal gifts. Kutcher’s narration of Nikki’s methods and motivation is somber and practical, like he’s reciting a recipe for a well-mixed drink.

Anne Heche’s Samantha maneuvers Nikki in a way that causes the power balance to shift in her favor. She believes that she is in control of Nikki and the sex. Letting the boy toy stay awhile is a small price to pay.

Margarita Levieva’s Heather gets lost among Nikki’s many conquests to the point where the viewer might not understand his sudden attraction to her. It’s hard to distinguish yourself amid continual coitus, where a face is all you carry around for differentiation.

Director David Mackenzie (Young Adam) does not suggest the sex that’s taking place in Spread. He shows it to you, in all of its positions, variations, and screamed-out ecstasies. No holds barred here. Really. If that’s your cup of tea, you’ll appreciate the “out there” frankness that pervades the film.

Others will just want to spread the word to steer clear.