SPOONFUL OF SUGAR (REVIEW)
Dir. Mercedes Bryce Morgan
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Millicent (Morgan Saylor) is taking a semester off from her studies to concentrate on her thesis about children with severe allergies, which makes her the perfect person to take care of little Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a sickly, mute child who suffers from every allergy under the sun, from nickel to artificial fabric. His overbearing mother, Rebecca (Kat Foster), is an accomplished author who is focused on her latest book release, while his dissatisfied father, Jacob (Myko Olivier), spends sweaty, shirtless days toiling away on a carpentry project in the backyard.
Sex, drugs and motherhood are the key ideas explored throughout SPOONFUL OF SUGAR as Millicent's LSD fuelled days turn into a spiral of madness that descends into a lucid nightmare. Visions of horned men and her wildest desires, Millicent's quest for perfection is helped with her kindling of Johnny who becomes a grounding for her escalating visions.
For a film heavily under the influence, it's not so weird and actually has a strong grounding in reality. There are moments of dreamscapes but these are minimal - perhaps a little underused for a film that could have played harder on this - and those looking for a Lynchian nightmare won't find it here. Mercedes Bryce Morgan's film is as much about about parenthood as it is about a drug addicted young adult looking to embed herself into a family. Throughout the duration of SPOONFUL OF SUGAR there becomes more 180 turns of affection for each of the characters and their motivations that it becomes a labyrinth of deceit and courage to the death, quite literally.
Olivier's craving to rekindle a sexual relationship with his wife, a mother struggling to cope with a needing child and a needy husband, a babysitter alone in the world surrounded by family, there's a lot going on and the film balances the pivots well enough that despite some nasty moments both physically and verbally, the sympathy for these characters never drowns and ends in pure misery. The film is never static long enough to predict where it's going and at times echoes the likes of ORPHAN at others, the nuances of Denis Villeneuve's tension filled resume, with everyone's cards held close to their chest.
SPOONFUL OF SUGAR is sweet and sour but never disappointing. With some of this years already standout performances and a mature take on family that's less Hollywood and more in the woods.