Kirby McClure’s background in music video certainly shows through in Spaghetti Junction, his first feature film.
Like me, UK readers will be familiar with the term ‘Spaghetti Junction’ as the colloquial name for junction 6 of the M6 motorway just outside the midlands city of Birmingham. I guess it was obvious, but it turns out it’s not the only one in the world! The one which is the title of Kirby McClure’s first feature is located just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.
Beneath it, a father and his two teenage daughters are struggling to adjust to life without their mother. 16-year-old August (Cate Hughes) is also learning to adapt to using her prosthetic leg; her older sister Shiny (Eleanore Miechkowski) is more interested in hanging around with her boyfriend and his car. Dad (Cameron McHarg) is grieving and struggling to keep the financial side of life together for the family.
Escaping from her family for a while, August happens upon a strange young man (played by Tyler Rainey) living in a cave in the woods. He claims to have supernatural origins and August, fascinated by him, brings him food and medicine. Together they set off on a journey to find the map to allow him to return home.
It’s a bit of a strange film, moving from raw family drama to something more supernatural with next to no explanation, and I’m not totally convinced that the two parts really fit together. August’s journey through grief is clear, but I think I must have missed something as I couldn’t quite latch on to the strange man’s part in it. Was he a figment of her imagination?
One thing that does work however is the casting of Cate Hughes as August. Director Kirby McClure did not want to use special effects to show August’s prosthetic leg, and so set out to find an amputee actor who would be able to fill the role. Cate Hughes had never previously acted but impressed instantly at read-through, and she definitely excels as the frustrated, grieving teen gaining confidence from an encounter with a very unusual person.