Given his body of work to date, it's easy to dismiss Ashton Kutcher as a lite comic actor (as opposed to an actor in light comedies), who hit his groove in mindless early 21st-century throwaways a la Dude Where's My Car and What Happens in Vegas.
But as he showed earlier this year in the little-seen Personal Effects - and as he demonstrates again in the new Spread - Kutcher is an actor with range. Spread may not amount to much but Kutcher will change perceptions of who he is as an actor for anyone who sees it.
Opening with an eye-popping Steadicam shot that establishes Kutcher's character, Nikki, as the rooster all the women want to get with at an upscale Hollywood club, Spread is about Nikki, a fast-talking gigolo with a smooth line of patter and a highly attuned sense for the needs of wealthy and lonely older women.
Having bailed on his last benefactress, Nikki hooks up with Samantha (Anne Heche), an attorney with big bucks and a lavishly modern spread in Brentwood. Before she knows it, Samantha has Nikki living at her house, servicing her sexual needs, shopping with her credit cards and driving her expensive cars.
Nikki, however, is a user with no conscience. Which means that, as soon as he drops Samantha at the airport for a business trip, he's cruising the clubs for female companionship to impress with the house where he lives.
David Mckenzie's film is about the ways a game like Nikki's gets old - and the increasing chance that Nikki will eventually meet his match: in this case, a young woman (Margarita Levieva) who knows the game as well as he does and can actually reach in and touch his long-hidden feelings.
In that sense, Spread offers few surprises. As Nikki begins breaking his own rules, he also reveals his vulnerability. But the best at this game reveal no weaknesses, engage no emotions. When you open yourself up, you stop being the user and fall prey to being used.
Kutcher's performance is the whole point of seeing this film.
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