Director: David Cronenberg
Year: 2002
TRT: 1:38

Reviewed: 8/10/03

Cronenberg has had the rare ability to continue making movies that are not exactly standard fare, and while this is extremely-toned down in comparison to his previous films, it is no exception. Slow pacing, minimum dialogue, and nonlinear storytelling makes it a film that will probably bore a lot of people, but the subtlety of the story and great performances (particularly by Ralph Fiennes as the title character) makes this one of the better intriguing dramas I've seen in a long time.

From the outset, we are introduced to the slow-paced, deliberate world of Spider, recently released from the institution and being introduced back into society through his stay at a halfway house in London. He continues to relive his past in flashes, scribbling down notes and trying to sort out his memories of when he was a child.

I gotta say, it's recommended to watch this at least twice. Cronenberg is renowned for blurring the lines of reality and fantasy, and when told through the eyes of the main character who is already a couple cans short of a six-pack, it can be even more difficult to discern, especially after a couple of beers. But ultimately it is a true Cronenberg flick, dealing with an Oedipal theme and the workings of a fragile mind. The solo commentary by Cronenberg helps wrap up a couple of loose ends as well. Again, a great performance by Fiennes, as well as Miranda Richardson and Gabriel Byrne (saving some face after that dreck known as Ghost Ship), and a small role by John Neville as a fellow halfway-house man.

Great Scene: Realizing the mindset of Spider as he continuously writes down his "notes" in his journal.

Media Notes: Nicely done disc put out by Sony Picture Classics, includes three featurettes, filmographies, trailers, and most importantly, a commentary (solo but intelligent) by the director. The featurettes (basically split into how the movie came to be made, the filming, and cast takes on the film) are all tied together by interviews with Cronenberg, which recounts a lot of the info he gives in the commentary itself. If you pick up the disc and aren't into commentaries, do yourself a favor and watch these.


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