DIRECTED BY: David Cronenberg
Spider is set in the East End London in the 1960s and '80's. A deeply disturbed boy, Spider, 'sees' his father brutally murder his mother and replace her with a prostitute, Yvonne. Convinced they plan to murder him next, Spider hatches an insane plan, which he carries through to tragic effect. Years later, Spider is released into a halfway house, where he receives little care or attention from the landlady Mrs. Wilkinson. Unsupervised, Spider stops taking his medication and starts revisiting his childhood haunts. His attempts to sustain his delusional account of his past begin to unravel and Spider spirals into fresh madness.
This is a movie that you will have to pay close attention to and one that makes you think. So if you don't like movies in that area, move on now. If you do, then your in for a treat with this film. It is a slow movie and I believe it is made that way because if it was to move fast you wouldn't understand it and it would be just to difficult to follow through. I had to have patience with this movie and trying to understand some of the mumbling that Spider does. But in the end it was such a surprise, the turn it took and everything seem to make sense in the end. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant. He has really out done himself in this role. All the actors were great. Don't let the slowness of the movie turn you off. It is worth sitting all the way through. Well it was for me.
Cronenberg's always been a safe bet, but I would never have guessed that he was capable of something as powerful as this. Ralph Fiennes also deserves commendation for keeping his head above this one - I have a new respect for him as an actor. So tiny and yet so immense in force, Spider is trustful of its audience... something you rarely ever see in a movie like this. It lets you walk through Dennis's neuroses gently and carefully, while at the same time playing with your preconceptions. The film is constantly changing, and at the same time immutable in its psychological genius.
Genius seems like an awfully strong word to ascribe to a movie, but Spider honestly deserves it. You would be hard-pressed to find a more subtle, fascinating study of the psyche in this media.
He takes up residence at a halfway house run by a rather strict woman in a bleak, run-down section of East End London, the same neighborhood where he grew up. As he wanders the shadowy streets, Spider begins to recall his fractured boyhood as the only child of an abusive plumber (Gabriel Byrne) and his doting wife (Miranda Richardson). He sees himself as a ten-year-old boy reliving the traumatic situations that led to his confinement more particularly his unhealthy, Oedipus-like affection towards his mother and the fear and envy towards his father.
Ralph Fiennes does an extraordinary job of carrying the film in an almost wordless role; he plays the role almost entirely with his body gestures and his dialogue is largely restricted to feverish, incoherent ramblings, but there's torment behind his every gesture and syllable; even his staggered gait is pitiful to watch. Reality in the film is represented by the objects that Spider weaves into his various mental states - the ropes, his journal, his cigarettes, his clothes, his parents while the events in the film are inseparable from Spider's sexual obsession and emotional withdrawal. Howard Shore's musical score conveys a sense of quiet tension throughout while Cronenberg ensures we can never be sure quite what is real or what may simply be in Spider's mind. The casting of Miranda Richardson in the dual roles of Spider's loving mother and his father's sluttish mistress only adds to our bewilderment.
The final conclusion is worth waiting for it's shocking, but also perfectly revealed in keeping with the wider construction of the film.
Yes it is slow, but that's not why I don't like it. I don't like it because nothing ever happens. Which in some movies, is fine, but this was boring. The technological aspects (directing etc) were great and the acting was pretty good too, but the actual 'plot' was just really boring.