Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Spider 2002

Directed by David Cronenberg

Canada / UK In English
100 minutes 35mm



Patrick McGrath. Based on his novel


Peter Suschitzky


Ronald Sanders


Howard Shore


Ralph Fiennes
Miranda Richardson
Gabriel Byrne
Lynn Redgrave
John Neville


Cannes (In Competition), Edinburgh, Toronto, Vancouver 2002; Rotterdam 2003


“An extraordinary tour-de-force… David Cronenberg’s perfectly formed and unsettling film stars Ralph Fiennes as a perpetually muttering schizophrenic released from an asylum to an East End London halfway house that soon becomes overpopulated by the spectres of his traumatized psyche. Brilliantly reimagined by the director from Patrick McGrath’s first-person gothic novel, the subtle and creepy Spider is set in the 1960s and the 1980s, as Spider’s memory leaps across time to put together the puzzle of how his current fragility developed. As a deeply disturbed child, Spider witnesses his father (Gabriel Byrne) brutally murdering his loving mother (Miranda Richardson) and replacing her with a boozy prostitute (again, Miranda Richardson), even though his father denies this horrible crime ever occurred… Cronenberg’s powerful film alludes to both Beckett and Freud, but may best be appreciated as a chilling cinematic distillation of pure madness, a highly structured and uniquely minimal masterpiece.” — Mark Peranson, Vancouver Film Festival 

“Far and away the best film at Cannes... Spider simultaneously held me rapt and ripped me apart… An inversion of the kind of ghost movie where the dead person gets to come back to Earth and observe the living, Spider takes place in a threadbare, ephemeral world largely populated by the specters of its protagonist’s traumatised psyche… Every color, sound, and cut contribute to the uncanny sense that what we are watching is an illusion more wrenching than any reality.” — Amy Taubin, Film Comment