Spider has been allowed a second chance at life after a long stay in a mental institution and sent to a halfway house under the stern watch of Mrs. Ilkenson.
Revisiting his old neighborhood reawakens memories of where his mother and his father raised him. He soon begins to uncover the real truth shifting seamlessly back and forth between the tragic events that polarized a boy's adolescence to the shell of a man enduring the surreal plausible reality of today.
Internal madness is hypnotically externalized in David Cronenberg's Spider, a disturbing portrait of schizophrenia. Adapted by Patrick McGrath from his celebrated novel, this no-frills production begins when "Spider" Cleg (Ralph Fiennes, in a daring, nearly nonverbal role) returns to his childhood neighborhood in London's dreary East End, where a traumatic event from his past percolates to the surface of his still-erratic consciousness. Released from a mental institution and left to fend for himself, he pursues elusive memories while staying in a halfway house run by a stern matron (Lynn Redgrave), unable to distinguish between past, present, and psychological fabrication. The distorting influence of Spider's mind is directly reflected in Cronenberg's cunning visual strategy, presenting a shifting "reality" that's deliberately untrustworthy, until the veracity of nearly every scene is called into question. With an impressive dual-role performance by Miranda Richardson, Spider falls prey to its own lugubrious rhythms, but like the acclaimed 1995 indie film Clean, Shaven, it's a compelling glimpse of mental illness, seen from the inside out. --Jeff Shannon
Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne
Directors: David Cronenberg