Film Screening 19th July, 2004

Poster for Spider


8:00 PM, 19th July, 2004

  • MA
  • 98 mins
  • 2002
  • David Cronenberg
  • Patrick McGrath
  • Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave

Dennis "Spider" Clegg (Fiennes) suffers from schizophrenia. After a confinement of 20 years, he is released to a halfway house for the mentally ill, managed by Mrs Wilkinson (Redgrave). Terrified of a world that defies his comprehension, Dennis confronts a past that slowly devours the present.

Directed by David Cronenberg, Spider was adapted for the screen by Patrick McGrath from his own novel. Fiennes is extraordinary in his role. He is complemented by a cast of real ability, including Gabriel Byrne as Spider's father and Miranda Richardson as his mother.

Schizophrenia is Greek for "broken thinking" and the structure of Spider performs aspects of its subject: memories, hallucinations and morbid fantasies mingle with the lived experience of the present, and sensation is not enough to determine what is real and what is not. Spider differs from other serious films about mental illness. In Donnie Darko, madness functions as a revelation. In Lost Highway, it expresses the fulfilment of wishes, especially the gnostic urge for an escape from the body and time. In Spider, madness is pure affliction, purposeless and without instruction.

An honest, reserved and patient film, Spider is possibly Cronenberg's best work yet; definitely compelling viewing.

Phillip Hilton