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Overall Rating
3.45

Awesome: 21.43%
Worth A Look: 25%
Average35.71%
Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap: 5.36%

6 reviews, 20 user ratings


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Spider
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"It's a terrible thing to lose your mind, or not to have a mind...."
4 stars

Three years after the semi-disappointing EXISTENZ, David Cronenberg has bounced back in style with a highly atypical film. If I hadn't seen the credits, I couldn't have guessed that the master of techno-gore himself was behind the camera for this stylish psychological thriller, and what he achieves with SPIDER ought to silence quite a few of his lingering critics.

Set in London, SPIDER relates the tale of a mental patient (Ralph Fiennes) who moves into a boarding home for recovering schizophrenics. There, he attempts to piece together the fragmented memories of his traumatic childhood.

The movie was adapted for the screen by Patrick McGrath, based on his novel; his script is refreshingly devoid of artificial Hollywood polish. Scenes tend to begin and end almost arbitrarily, and sometimes the point isn't immediately clear--but this is true to the disordered way the mentally ill think. And for a movie largely composed of flashbacks, the screenplay is far less confusing than it could have been.

Fiennes pulls off a wonderful performance as the titular Spider. He has virtually no real dialogue but spends most of his time muttering almost inaudibly, his body hunched over with the weight of some great psychic pain. Fiennes does remarkably well here, deftly avoiding the caricatured tics that a lesser actor might have brought to the role. Miranda Richardson is similarly excellent as the boisterous harlot who intrudes into young Spider's home. Also worth noting is Gabriel Byrne, playing Spider's earthy dad, who may or may not be hiding a dark secret from his son.

It is a compelling film for most of the way, but the ending feels somewhat abrupt. Perhaps this is a function of the meandering structure of the screenplay--the movie lacks strong narrative drive, so when the climax comes you may not even recognize it as such.

A highly respectable effort for all involved, particularly for Cronenberg, who proves that he may have more in him than any of us believed.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6597&reviewer=223
originally posted: 01/02/03 18:47:36
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/20/13 PAUL SHORTT COMPELLING, HAUNTING PORTRAIT OF MADNESS, WITH A GREAT STAR PERFORMANCE 4 stars
9/07/10 little jerry John Neville's performance is one of the most poignant ever. 5 stars
2/23/07 dmitry fantastic...Cronenberg at his best 5 stars
11/19/06 Ionicera it stays with you 4 stars
11/07/05 K. Sear A little cry, even for Cronenberg. Still entertaining though. 4 stars
8/19/05 ES Lynch and Cronenberg must have gone to the same school for making crazy movies that suck 1 stars
9/24/04 Roxy Smith excellent 5 stars
7/30/04 Josh Standlee So unscary, it would pass as a made-for-TV movie on PAX! 1 stars
6/07/04 Ryan Clark Either you get it or you don't - to truly appreciate the film, listen to the commentary. 4 stars
5/11/04 The More You Know scatterbrained insomniacs worst nightmare 3 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Typically good cronenberg from the canadian Lynch. 4 stars
10/03/03 Mickey With A C Art or crap? CRAP 1 stars
8/22/03 Bernie Chabel Not easy to watch but oh so rewarding 5 stars
8/14/03 Jeannie Karlsen Loved Ralph Fiennes performance (as always), love Cronenberg films (as always) 5 stars
5/22/03 Elendil Very atmospheric,. Pity about the SPOILERS provided by E. Childress. Review ~= plot outline 4 stars
4/07/03 Byrneoholic I like the movie 4 stars
3/26/03 rue the whirl it's pretty crappy i guess 4 stars
3/11/03 thejames its ok i guess. 2 stars
3/06/03 Spy It isn't very good... 3 stars
1/14/03 marzio arigoni@rtsi.ch great director, great actors Fiennes Richardson and Byrne, great film 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  28-Feb-2003 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  08-May-2003




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