East Coast Premiere
2022 • USA • 97 min.
Director: Kirby McClure
Screenwriter: Kirby McClure
Cast: Cate Hughes, Cam McHarg, Eleanore Miechkowksi, Tyler Rainey, Jess Gallegos
March 23, 2023 @ 7:45 pm
An evocative blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and stark reality, Spaghetti Junction tells the story of August (Cate Hughes), a timid teenager who’s recently lost her foot in a car accident. One night, she wanders into the forest after seeing a celestial body blaze across the sky. She begins having strange visions beckoning her to a cave in the woods, where she meets a mysterious young man called “The Traveler.” The enigmatic stranger needs her help, but her tumultuous relationship with her alcoholic father (Cam McHarg), and impulsive sister Shiny (Eleanore Miechkowski), complicates her quest.
The titular “spaghetti junction” found in Kirby McClure’s impressive debut refers to an extensive stacked highway system, specifically the Tom Moreland Interchange outside of Atlanta, and its mass of overlapping roadways. The intertwined network grants its travelers access to the greater metropolitan area, but for the despairing characters populating the film, there are few paths away from economic insecurity, substance abuse, and hopelessness affecting their lives. August faces a cosmic mystery with newfound purpose, setting her adrift from the routine turmoil of her fractured home life, as she embarks on a dangerous quest. To her, the expanse of concrete arteries represents a limitless universe filled with otherworldly possibilities, or possibly just a coping mechanism concocted in her mind.
Spaghetti Junction is a tension-filled family drama, steeped in the atmosphere of the deep south, and accentuated by intriguing fantasy components. McClure downplays the overt supernatural elements in favor of rich characterization, deftly avoiding stereotypical portrayals of poor southerners, and drawing his players with great sensitivity. August herself is a disabled character crafted with tremendous agency, never viewed through a pitying lens, and wonderfully portrayed by newcomer Hughes in what should be a breakout role. The director’s vision is charged by cinematographer Kristian Zuniga’s sumptuous visuals, and an electrifying music score by Health, transferring the yearnings of its stellar ensemble directly into our senses.