Watching Jonas Åkerlund’s “Small Apartments,” it’s impossible not to be reminded of his own 2002 druggie opus, “Spun.” Like “Spun,” “Small Apartments” focuses on a bevy of distasteful, strange characters that co-exist around one another as they go about their own hopeless, dead-end lives while tripping all over each other. The movie’s narrative focus is on Franklin Franklin, played by the usually-excellent Matt Lucas in a vividly off-putting performance: Lucas is aggressively, self-consciously repulsive throughout, and while his dedication to his craft artistically admirable, it also gets distasteful and tiresome very fast. Luckily the supporting cast is truly terrific, in particular an unusually brittle James Marsden and a particularly grave James Caan as a downtrodden neighbor, while Åkerlund’s grunge-porn visual style is strikingly distinctive. Overall the movie probably makes a satisfying companion piece to “Spun” because it very much feels like a spiritual sequel (not unlike “Everybody Wants Some!!”‘s connection to “Dazed and Confused”) to the point where you almost expect Jason Schwartzman and John Leguizamo to stop by as Ross and Spider Mike.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)