Writer-director Lisa Mikitarian goes for a stylized neo-noir aesthetic in the family melodrama “Spent,” but with amateurish acting, an overwrought script, and low-budget production design, this feature never has enough in the tank to get going in the first place.
Connie Lamothe and Darren Barzegar star as Evelyn and Lonnie, the wife and son of Herbert (Nick Nerangis), who is laid up in the hospital with a tumor. Evelyn and Lonnie are a little too pleased at the imminent demise of the family patriarch, already starting their new lives, hooking up with new lovers, quitting their jobs and spending their inheritance before Herbert’s even cold. So when he makes a miraculous recovery, things are looking pretty dire for the family.
Mikitarian’s style is over-the-top, testing the boundaries of the film’s internal reality. It flips from color to black and white, seemingly as a reflection of character mood, but one never can tell. One character calls out another character’s platinum blond Marilyn Monroe wig, but that acknowledgment of artifice never goes anywhere. To say nothing of the obviously fake wheeled-rodent that skitters along a diner floor.
“Spent” exhausts the audience’s goodwill within the first few minutes of this bizarre project, and requires the utmost patience to endure.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood