I found Spider to be a particularly hard film to watch, because of countless reasons. The first is that it employs a very unusual narrative, relying on flashbacks to tell the story of Mr. Cleg. At first it manages to confuse, given the fact that the character himself is present in these sequences; only later on did I realize that he was recounting instances from his childhood. The usage of this device is quite effective though, especially when it becomes evident that the main character is mentally unstable. Ralph Fiennes does a great job in conveying emotion; though his character sometimes lacks speaking parts, he more than makes up for it by with his wide range of facial expressions. (unlike some of our local actors; Kim Chiu, for instance, who is only limited to two particular emotions: happy and sad. But I digress.)
It could be said that this movie requires patience, which I admit I am lacking. Aside from the fact that the movie’s pace is on the slow side, it doesn’t help that the movie tries to confuse you at times. What was shown on screen, did it really happen, or not? There is no indication of whether a particular scene is a dream sequence or whether it was actually recalled from his memory; what’s constant is his omnipresence all throughout.
Shocking scenes include a very distraught main character holding broken glass. The tension was unbearable and it took a long time before they were able to restrain him. These sort of films are heart racing in due to the fact that the anticipation is what would keep you at the edge of your seat. Second place for shocking scenes was when the prostitute showed her mammaries. Quite unexpected, really. A welcome change for an otherwise dry film, though. I kid.
Upon paying close attention, however, one would see that the film was quite creative with its composition of shots. Numerous camera angles were utilized, and with a film with a pace as slow as this, it was good that the camera work had the liberty of experimentation. The scoring and sound gave it an overall eerie atmosphere, with silence occupying a major part of the film. It is interesting how silence can add layers of feeling in terms of the viewing experience. You know that it’s there, but this is just passive acknowledgement in the sense that you’d rather pay attention to what is happening on screen. This is used to great effect in films such as this, where the main character’s schizophrenia is underscored, and the plot and film elements are all the more noticeable.
Honestly, I don’t think I can say much more Spider, because in my experience as a viewer, it had failed to capture my attention span; I dozed off and missed most parts of the movie. (Ironic, since I was awake and drudged my way through Primer, which I found to be a much drier movie.) If not for the superb acting performance of Ralph Fiennes, I wouldn’t recommend this film as an entertaining one.