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Spider (2002)

Spider (2002)

Ralph FiennesMiranda RichardsonGabriel ByrneLynn Redgrave
David Cronenberg


Spider (2002) is a English movie. David Cronenberg has directed this movie. Ralph Fiennes,Miranda Richardson,Gabriel Byrne,Lynn Redgrave are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2002. Spider (2002) is considered one of the best Drama,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

Dennis Clegg is in his thirties and lives in a halfway house for the mentally ill in London. Dennis, nicknamed "Spider" by his mother has been institutionalized with acute schizophrenia for some 20 years. He has never truly recovered, however, and as the story progresses we vicariously experience his increasingly fragile grip on reality.


Spider (2002) Reviews

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Spider creeps into your brain

    Chris Knipp2003-03-11

    David Cronenberg's "Spider" is a kind of antidote to the upbeat depiction of madness found in last year's "Beautiful Mind." The latter ends with the crazy man turned into nothing more than a slightly befuddled genius, receiving an honorary delayed Premio Nobel with his loyal wife beside him. Spider ends with the isolated, pathetic Dennis Cleg ("Spider," Ralph Fiennes) being taken from a grim halfway house back to the asylum from which he came. He has not worked out, to put it very mildly. The "Beautiful Mind" character, John Nash, achieves a semblance of normality. Insanity is something he pops in and out of, like a computer game, and resolves to turn away from by sheer force of will, no thanks to Ed Harris but very much with the help of a good wife (Jennifer Connelly). Dennis Cleg is utterly deranged. Any sort of wife and any sort of life are out of the question for him and always were as the movie gradually explains to us. "Spider" is more interior. It makes us focus on Cleg and enter his world by following him off a train to the address he's been sent to stay at. He gets there by a slow stumbling shuffle, muttering to himself, stooping over to pick up tiny objects beside puddles in the dingy gritty London streets of Cronenberg's film. "Spider" is a very creepy picture, and Cleg is a very creepy man. "Spider" works almost entirely without special effects and yet like many of Cronenberg's movies it has a hallucinatory, trippy quality from first to last. Nothing could be much trippier than "Naked Lunch" and "eXistenZ" but what makes "Spider" like an eerie dream is the slowness with which it movies. Spider's shuffle compels us to move with him and into his mind. Cleg is a very, very odd, withdrawn, strange, almost totally uncommunicative creature, living almost certainly more in the past than the present, inhabiting that past doubly--because he cannot get it out of his mind and it also appears now that the halfway house is very near where he lived as a child and he finds his way back to actual sites of the primal scenes that drove him mad (except that clearly he was always mad, or ready to go mad). He inhabits thus in mind and body now in the hallucinatory scenes of the movie this strange childhood, the world of a boy with a mother (Miranda Richardson) and a father (Gabriel Byrne) in a poor working class house in East London. What is going on? We go back again and again to the same scenes: to a pub where tarts smoke and laugh mockingly, where his dad comes in the evening. To the kitchen where he sits with his mum. He is sent back and forth. His father goes with one of the tarts. The boy follows them. Or does he? Here as in "Beautiful Mind" the protagonist enters the world of his madness before your eyes, but this time we're not fooled for long. Spider scribbles frenzied notes in a hidden journal, trying desperately, it appears, to figure out what his memories mean. The impossibility of his task is shown in the writing, which is gibberish. He lives with a fearful terror, inside multiple shirts, not daring to look anyone in the eye, but he himself is dangerous and doomed. The boy Cleg is excellent. Not as mannered and creepy as the adult Cleg (a Beckett figure whose performance, excellently done by Fiennes, is mostly dumbshow), he's nonetheless very much like the older Fiennes in the picture, and the young actor, Bradley Hall, is wonderfully understated. He has mannerisms that connect him with the adult Cleg. He plays with little objects, cat's cradles, and has string running across his room like a spider's web, and he picks up bits of smut from the ground and pockets them. He has the same frightened way of mutely staring into space. In retrospect their very eyes seemed the same. Much credit is due also to another excellent actor, John Neville, as Terrence, the only other inmate of the halfway house that comes into Spider's ken; Miranda Richardson is fine in additional roles. They may seem a bit overdrawn, but then we realize that we are witnessing the hallucinations of an unstable child. All the acting is splendid in this movie. Cronenberg has created a world in "Spider" that's elaborately decayed and dirty and dripping with moisture. Every object or bare wall is richly patina-ed and ancient, ageless, but the world of the picture is simple and without distractions. Nothing takes your eye off Cleg and his memories or delusions. Cleg moves very deliberately, always hesitating, tentative, withdrawing, withholding. There is no need to overstate horror. It is simply horrible. People will differ on whether this is a great movie. For all its greater integrity and grittiness, it falls prey to the problem of "Beautiful Mind": that we, the sane, cannot know madness, and devices, essentially artificial, must be created to provide us with some substitutes and metaphors for an interior world to which we lack the key. Some of us may feel curiously let down when "Spider" ends without the payoff of a tragedy or a cure. One thinks of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men": "This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." But we may find in the days after our viewing that "Spider" has left its stain on our memory.

  • Highly underrated psychological drama from David Cronenberg


    After glancing over some the previous comments for Spider (2002), as well as several other somewhat similar films that explore various comparable themes, I have come to the conclusion that audiences today don't want to be challenged. A sad fact indeed, since David Cronenberg's Spider is one of the more challenging English-language films of the last couple of years. Told in an entirely subjective fashion that owes much to the work of writers like William S. Burroughs, Franz Kafka, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, the film draws the audience into the lead character's mind and leaves them there to wander through a wavering maze of fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, the conscious and the subconscious, etc. The symbolic side of the film sees Cronenberg at his best; rejecting the adolescent sex and violence of his earlier work and instead building on the same highly psychological mind-space previously explored in his 1988 film Dead Ringers. There's also a certain reminiscent feeling to his two controversial literary adaptations of the 1990's, Naked Lunch (1991) and Crash (1998), both of which depicted a world as viewed through the eyes of a tormented character. Cronenberg has always enjoyed chronicling the downward spiral of characters that have been psychologically damaged, but with Spider, novelist Patrick McGrath has created one of the ultimate cinematic schizophrenics. From his over-sized shoes, to his nonsense book of gibberish, Spider is every rambling lunatic we've ever come across rolled into one. In lesser hands, the performance could have very easily veered towards Rain Man territory; however, with Fiennes in the lead role, this was never a danger. Having exorcised all traces of hammy overacting as The Tooth Fairy in Red Dragon (2002), he is here free to create a subtle, less showy role that requires little besides simply 'reacting'. His appearance is one of outright dishevelment throughout, as he sits in smoky canteens decked out in a dirty rain-coat, scruffy trousers and with bright yellow nicotine stains on his fingers. If we could walk into the film, we get the feeling that the stench of urine would be everywhere. When not chronicling the darker side of mental illness or the terrible living conditions of the British halfway-house system, Spider works best as a gripping detective story. We, the audience are here to follow Spider as he traces his various webs back to that one fateful night; studying the facts and putting the pieces back together. There is even a semi-nonsense voice over/stream of conscious thought pattern mumbled by our 'hero' throughout, which helps shed some light on the mystery at hand without necessarily giving too much away. The film also works as a showcase for underrated actors. Fiennes, of course, in the lead is outstanding, but we also have Miranda Richardson as young spider's mother, as well as acting as the film's central enigma. Some have criticised her performance as being almost larger than life, like a caricature, but she is supposed to be playing the fevered incarnation of womanhood as depicted from the mind of a very troubled boy; so what do you expect? As mentioned before, the film works from an entirely subjective viewpoint, in which everything in the film has been rearranged and re-adapted to better suit the crumbling mindset of the central character. With this in mind, Cronenberg creates a depiction of Britain that has more in common with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) than anything resembling old London town. There are no cars in the film and, save for a few scenes, very little in the way of extras. This allows Spider to wander the empty streets and empty allotments as if constantly roaming around his own damaged and alienated psyche. Gabriel Byrne is also interesting as Spider's father, but his performance is one of great subtly. Even more subtle and criminally underrated is John Neville as Spider's only companion in the halfway house. He gives a very restrained, understated portrayal of psychosis and old age, which is both intriguing and disturbing; with many viewers picking up on the circular thematic of these two different characters. Is Terence a prototype for Spider? Perhaps. Even more intriguing is the character of Mrs Wilkinson, who may or may not be the very same woman who initially flashes her breast at young Spider, thus triggering the events of the film. If she fails to register, it is perhaps down to the streamlining of the character from book to film, which will inevitably leave out major plot details. Regardless, Cronenberg ties all of these ideas into the images of the film; creating frames of Kafka-like complexity, with damp, bleak, washed-out scenes brimming with symbolism. Try and count how many times we see Spider framed through bars and grates, or how many times the web symbolism is used. The obsession with gas is also a clever allusion to later events and wonderfully represented by the looming gasworks that linger constantly on the horizon. This is a film that rewards multiple viewings, and, as a fan of engrossing, suspenseful, intelligent cinema, I greet it with open arms. Some will no doubt find the film to be a real chore, while others, I would hope, might find something to enjoy within this dark and troubled story. Sufficed to say, for those willing to allow themselves to be tangled in the spider's web, the film will reward....


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