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An endearing, if not always profound, film
on 2 April 2003
A trio of small time musicians are forced into evaluating their lives after their dalliance with drugs turns into a disaster.
The trio of Cookie (Thandie Newton) - the group's vocalist, Spoon (Tupac Shakur), who plays double bass and is also on vocals and Stretch (Tim Roth), the band's keyboard player, are plunged into crisis in the film's opening sequence due to their substance abuse. In a dramatic beginning Cookie is comatose and in such a perilous physical condition that she literally has to be dragged to a hospital by Spoon and Stretch.
The action then focuses on the duo's somewhat half-hearted attempts to ease their dependence on drugs, while Cookie, we presume, makes a full recovery.
Stretch is seethingly sardonic about the seemingly endless layers of petty bureaucracy that the pair have to face to enter a drug rehabilitation programme, however neither he, nor Spoon have much time to mull over the many obstacles in their path after they rip off a local drug dealer who seeks deadly retribution.
The film flits between the past and the present using still photography to link between different scenes. We're taken from the smoke-filled jazz club where the triumvirate perform to the grimy, litter filled streets of Detroit as Stretch and Spoon fruitlessly attempt to get some help for their substance habits.
It's a relatively interesting affair, that although certainly not ground breaking nor necessarily insightful, has an endearing quality.
This is mainly due to the main protagonists, as Roth and Shakur occupy the screen for the majority of its running time and the latter's charisma filters into every shot, illuminating the drab locations that the duo prowl.
Shakur, as you would expect given that he was a rap artist, copes easily with the colourful colloquial language that peppers the script and although Roth's American accent does waver at times, he reprises some of the subdued fury he exhibited in his startling film debut, Made in Britain (1980).
There is a genuine camaraderie between Roth and Shakur, whose credible performance suggested that he was destined for larger acting roles. His untimely and extremely unfortunate death denied him the chance to fulfil the latent potential he also displayed in Juice (1992).
Ice Cube's cogent showing in the excellent Boyz N the Hood (1991) demonstrated that rappers were capable of making the transition to the big screen.
However aside from Eminem, who was entirely plausible as an actor in 8 Mile, no other microphone controller (MC) has made the meteoric leap into movies with any large degree of success.
Pretenders like DMX (Exit Wounds) and P Diddy (Monster's Ball) have made fairly egregious attempts to break into the turbulent waters of the Hollywood sea, however neither, it appears, will ever sail confidently in such hostile and unforgiving territory.
And in a way that makes Tupac's premature passing even more poignant.