Spider (2002)

Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne .UK/Canada. 1h m

In the early 2000’s David Conenberg packed away the New Flesh and made an intensely beautiful and fascinating account of Patrick’s McGraths novel. Even without the body horror and gore, psychotropic vibes and the paranoid surreal, Conenberg still manages to disturb.

Starring Ralph Fiennes, as a deeply disturbed middle aged man, simply known as Spider. He’s just been released from a long term mental institution into a drab boarding house in London’s King Cross area. The tatty rooms and pealing wallpaper permeate a 1950’s atmosphere and isn’t the idea surroundings for recovery, however it’s here that Spider travels back to his childhood, spiraling back into the trauma as he remembers his obsessive belief that his father (Bryne) did away with his mother (Richardson) to start up a new life with a prostitute.

The only thing worse than losing your mind… is finding it again.

Slowly every woman in the movie morphs into Spider Mother, and each unique character is masterfully acted by Miranada Richardson, the loving mother, the crass dirty mouthed prostitute and even the domineering woman who runs the boarding house. This is a sensational way of representing what Spider sees in his mind and is an example of his recovery and revelations. One moment she’s cuddling her son in drab clothes, the next she’s a bottle blonde flicking spunk off her hand into a canal after a fumble on the way home from the pub.

Spiders spends his days shuffling around his gray world, mumbling and scribbling eligible notes. But each flashback of post war Britain gives a breathtaking insight into his troubled childhood and family life. As a child his hobby was to make elaborate cobwebs with string around his home, getting his name Spider. Once his mother vanishes, he’s sure his secretive father has buried her in the allotments and the replacement needs to be taken care of.

Clothes maketh the man; and the less there is of the man, the more the need of the clothes.

– Terrance

Director David Cronenberg deferred his own salary to make this film and with it being so out of his typical directional character there has to be a personal connection for the pioneering director. He’s used a small and well seasoned cast to work through a terrible and yet humbling story. As we live through rose tinted memories and awaken to the stark revelations along with our hero Spider we can’t condemn him as a villain at any stage, we’ll be too busy wiping a tear away claiming that we need to dust a bit more around the place.

Rating:7 /10


Related: Dead Ringers (1988)

Lists:Mental Health Cinema
Spotlight: Ralph Fiennes, David Cronenberg, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne,


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