Spider (2002)

Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave,
Spider is a movie starring Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, and Gabriel Byrne. A mentally disturbed man takes residence in a halfway house. His mind gradually slips back into the realm created by his illness, where he replays a...
  • 6.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Patrick McGrath, Writer:
  • David Cronenberg, Director:
  • Catherine Bailey, Samuel Hadida, Producer:

Trailer:

9 / 10

A much misunderstood film

There are always films that people will either see what the director was going for, or simply won't connect with the film. David Cronenberg's Spider is one of those films.

Many comparisons can be made between this film and the Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind in that they both examine the complexities of mental illness. Whereas Howard took the glamorous Hollywood style approach -- complete with government agents and associated adventures -- Cronenberg continues to prove that less is more when it comes to film. Spider is significantly more effective in that it does not candy coat its subject, rather approaching the scenario with brute realism.

Cronenberg is certainly one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood directors of our age in terms of popular appeal. His films are not for mass marketing and popcorn sales, but rather are psychologically and sociologically challenging to the viewer. Cronenberg films generally demand a surrender from the audience to an unsettling reality, and Spider is no different. The fractured perception offered by the protagonist as displayed through Cronenberg's eye is truly unique and refreshing.

If you are the type of person who is up for quick, easy entertainment, Spider is not your film. But, if you want to explore a brilliantly crafted submergence into the strange reality of a mentally ill person, Spider will leave you wanting more. Cronenberg has once again proved that there are few directors of his talent and skill. His ability to create a wholly original feel in film incomparable to any of his contemporaries is always welcomed by this viewer.

9 / 10

My failed, boring and patronising attempt to help reveal the cinematic brilliance in this film

I've read a few of the other user comments about this film and often words and phrases like pretentious, dull, boring, lacking in entertainment are used. All fair comments, it is definitely not a film for a fantastical exciting escapist experience - however, I would suggest that a little effort on the part of the viewer will pay big dividends.

The first thing to say is that the actual plot of the film is not the main focus of the film. This is all about the madness, and subtle questions that are raised and need to be held in your mind throughout.

Every scene provides vital information, but do not forget we are seeing inside the 30 or 40 year old memories of a man who has spent most of his life in a mental asylum. I would not advise taking any scene at face value, particularly the flashbacks.

It is a challenging film and may at first seem to lack coherence, or be artsy for the sake of it. However, like the jigsaws that appear in the film in various forms it is the final pieces that are the hardest to deal with and potentially the most dangerous.

And at the end we are left with a question - is Spider's trauma the cause of his insanity, or is his insanity the cause of the trauma.

10 / 10

This film is nothing short of a Masterpiece

This film kept me totally engaged during every single second. The acting was no less than you would expect from such a talented cast - brilliant performances from all. Ralph Fiennes is just superb. Gabriel Byrne in probably the most difficult role of his career to date keeps the `secret' to the end. John Neville and Lynn Redgrave, provide the supporting roles with a flare that never upstages the lead actors. Bradley Hall as the Boy Spider gave a fine performance as only child actors can. But it was the Chalk and Cheese characters play by Miranda Richardson that for me stole the show and clearly shows how deep her talents run.

The script, adapted by the author of the book, was powerful without going over the top and was very authentic. Even throwaway lines by supporting actors had meaning and helped convey the power and momentum of this masterpiece `.. seven packets of Crisps and a packet of Embassy.' Many times have I uttered similar words in a London Pub.

The locations were so real, you could smell and tasted them - I grew up in such a places and in the same period as the Boy Spider - every single and highly accurate detail brought my childhood memories rushing back.

The story is real - events like the critical event in this film really did happen and still do.

For international readers, England from the late 70's onwards adopted a 'Care in the Community' programme and every city and major town has halfway houses, like the one portrayed in this film, where newly released inmates of mental institutions are ordinarily just dumped to fend for themselves.

This film is nothing short of a Masterpiece - the real pity is that it won't appeal to a wider international audience.

10 / 10

May be Cronenberg's best

I was lucky enough to see a screening of this in Queens, where David Cronenberg spoke about the film afterwards. He may be the most intelligent filmmaker working today. This is such an incredibly complex film, with so many levels of interpretations and ambiguity, which most great films offer an audience. The acting is first-rate and Oscar-worthy in a literal sense, not a bulls*** Hollywood sense; the composition of the shots is beautiful; the story is flawless and engaging; the production design is perfect - I could go on, but you get the picture. What's unfortunate is so many critics are discussing this film as one about schizophrenia, which it really isn't, nor was it meant to be. As it turns out, it is an excellent representation of the schizophrenic experience. But Cronenberg intended it to be representational of the human condition, with all its mysteries, uncertainties and existential anxieties. What was never an uncertainty, however, is Cronenberg's skillful mastery of delivering genius.

8 / 10

A Wandering Mind

This film is one of the most under-rated, I have to say. I know it takes awhile to get into and you have to use your mind while you watch it but it's not THAT complicated, is it? Especially if you watch this film more than once you really become to understand what it is it with Spider. I don't want to give away the plot, because you really have to see it for yourself. It's surprising and pleasantly different.

I have to highlight the acting in the film, it's that superb. All the actors are just simply amazing, taking the acting to a completely new level. So, if you want to try something that's not so mainstream film-making, watch Spider. I dare you.