More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

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

6 reviews, 20 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Old Guard, The by Peter Sobczynski

Greyhound by Peter Sobczynski

Guest of Honour by Peter Sobczynski

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears by Jay Seaver

Dealer/Healer by Jay Seaver

City Without Baseball by Jay Seaver

Invisible Man, The (2020) by Rob Gonsalves

Hunt, The (2020) by Rob Gonsalves

Da 5 Bloods by Rob Gonsalves

Hamilton by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
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
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

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 great director, great actors Fiennes Richardson and Byrne, great film 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  28-Feb-2003 (R)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast