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7th April 2022

MANIFF 2022: Spaghetti Junction

MANIFF 2022: Kirby McClure’s debut feature is cinematically gorgeous but struggles to deliver an engaging and comprehensive plot
MANIFF 2022: Spaghetti Junction

Written by Tom Smith Wrinch.

Framed around the struggles of a young amputee, Kirby McClure’s debut sci-fi feature Spaghetti Junction is visually gorgeous yet struggles to find its cinematic footing. Although it is a perplexing and enticing world, it is one audiences will find hard to navigate.

Following a tragic accident, the central protagonist August (Cate Hughs) is unable to act like the other teenagers her age. She is unable to properly dance or walk and so instead finds solace within her imagination. She dreams of an extra-terrestrial friend (Tyler Rainey) who offers her an escape from the tragedies of the world around her. Her alcoholic father (Cameron McHarg) and her petulantly abusive older sister (Eleanore Miechkowski) force her to regress into a beautifully visualised imagination where our she is able to retreat from her harsh realities.

In our interview, the director poignantly stated that the film itself is one of great personal interest. Having lost his mother at twenty-one and subsequently seeing his family’s belongings being repossessed, his film searches for the value of escapism in what seems to be an inescapable world. This is evident in his ethereally charged cinematography which the film is replete with. It is here that the film really finds its merit.

His use of expressive visuals, summer hues, and expansive wide shots evoke a nostalgic sentimentality often found amidst the throes of a youthful summer. His impressive use of sound is also worth noting. His grand celestial score is reminiscent of the works of a young Tarkovsky that then succeeds in creating what can only be described as a queer melange between nostalgic longing with cosmic sublimity; perfectly capturing the enigmatic yet enlightening sensations of the adolescent experience.

However, the film itself seems to rely too heavily upon style that it foregoes substance. The plot seems to lose its thread towards the end and many of the sci-fi elements that the director attempts to expound seem to appear lost and vaguely comprehensible as one navigates their way through his sci-fi coming-of-age tale. Lost amidst cinematic translation then, the film is unable to succeed in drawing audience’s further into his world of youthful abandon.

Ultimately, whilst Spaghetti Junction is visually and sonically engaging, its lack of an overly comprehensible sci-fi narrative means that it never entirely leaves the stratosphere, let alone transports us to another universe.


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