Written and Directed by Lisa Mikitarian
Cinematography by David Doko
Starring Darren Barzegar, Connie Lamothe, and Nick Nerangis
Indie Film Review by Euan Franklin
When a movie promotes with its inspirations, you know it’s in trouble. It’s telling us to understand that first, so you can enjoy this. In the debut feature from Lisa Mikitarian, the synopsis for Spent describes itself as a “creative piece of farce Noir/Dark Comedy that hearkens back to the golden era of 1940s filmmaking”. I’ve enjoyed watching these types of movies (vaguely referenced), but they couldn’t aid my displeasure of watching Spent. Nothing could.
Husband and father Herbert J. Schumacher (Nick Nerangis) is in the hospital, suffering from a brain tumour – and his family couldn’t be happier. His wife Evelyn (Connie Lamothe) and their son Lonnie (Darren Barzegar) spend Herb’s savings, intended for his “golden years”, and can’t wait to spend it all. But when Herb miraculously recovers, mother and son become desperate.
The story is initially intriguing and promises a comic, Coen-esque neo-noir with a dark subject-matter interlaced with humour. And we’re tricked again with the quality of the set-design, which briefly dazzles our eyes – hoping to cover up what’s to follow. But within ten minutes, you know you’re in for an unbearable experience.
Mikitarian has written and directed Spent, revealing her weaknesses in both areas. Her dialogue is ridiculous and boring, with lines such as “having tasted of you, Gregory, of love…” and “look at this temperate morning we have!”, written as if by gunpoint. Even worse, Mikitarian directs her actors as if their characters were cheap robots, as if the script is littered with dashes after every word.
After the monotonous dialogue, the lifeless direction, and David Doko’s imperfect cinematography, the actors are the only ones left who could save the film. But they can’t. There’s a good effort from Nerangis, who enters as a cartoon with a stupid laugh, but ends being the most entertaining part of the film. But the other actors perform, as if deliberately, with no charisma or sense of their characters, and constantly crumble when trying to remember their lines. And the mediocre editing makes everybody look even stupider.
There are also many amateur inadequacies littered throughout the film – most noticeably the props, which would be embarrassing for a school play, never mind a feature film. We are treated with flip-phones made of plastic, toy rats pretending to be real, and clunky, dystopian computers straight out of an old B-movie. And within this forest of mediocrity, Mikitarian tries to show her aesthetic flair by arbitrarily switching from colour into black-and-white without any narrative purpose – a vivid display of being bored in the editing room.
Spent has a fun concept, but its execution is dire and embarrassing. It’s a product from people who have little knowledge or experience in making movies, reaching Birdemic proportions. If you endure this movie, you will feel utterly spent.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Spent below...