Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Spider, a Film by David Cronenberg

Spider is a great film by a master filmmaker and this one lives up to any of his other films, displaying an uncanny ability to create an airtight world that is totally consistent and unto itself. Spider hangs out in an emotional nether-land that is similar to Cronenberg's earlier films Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers, but different in narrative shape and without the sensational or shocking images that those other films celebrated.

One of the great things about Spider is the astonishing performances by Ralph Fiennes and especially Miranda Richardson, who portrays three strikingly different characters. I have greatly admired her work since I first saw her in Dance with a Stranger, and I can't think of an actress that could have better handled the tasks she was up against in this effort.

The other actors are all equally valuable in their supporting roles and even Gabriel Byrne, who seems to over-act in most of his performances stays in the web that Cronenberg spins and plays his cards close to the chest. The young lad who plays Fiennes' character as a boy (Bradley Hall) is also well-cast and does a great job of matching the unusual mood of the film.

Unfortunately, the story isn't the best part about the release, and the finale is something that I predicted from the over-informative previews (when are the studios going to figure out that we don't need to know everything about a movie in order to get excited about seeing it?). If you haven't seen the previews, go see the movie before they give it all away!

Yes, as you may have already read, the film is slow, but boring it is not. American audiences that are used to Hollywood pap will perhaps be a bit dazed by it all (the plot line may add to that confusion), but I believe that this particular effort is the sign of Cronenberg's increasing maturity as a director. It took great courage to surrender to the pace that this film needed. After all, the world of the movie is the world of a nearly catatonic pace it any faster would have felt forced and out of place. You can make movies that are going to wow audiences or you can make works of art. Fortunately, Cronenberg’s late works continues to reside in the world of the latter.



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