- Movie Rating -

The Girl and the Spider (2022)

| April 8, 2022

One is tempted to look at The Girl and the Spider and toss it into the bin of ‘art for art’s sake.’  I get that.  It contains no moment of high drama, no conventuous leerings that paint the actor’s performances with Oscar clips.  It is a drama, but not a riveting drama in any conventional sense.  Personally, I like that about it.The Girl and the Spider is a portrait of life as we know it – not in movie terms, but from human experience.  We are invited to be a participant rather than spectator.  The sibling directors Ramond and Silvan Zürcher want us to stand in the room with these people and hear their conversations, intrude on their lives and very often take a journey into their psyche.

We first meet Mara (Henriette Confurious) standing in the middle of her apartment as people busy themselves around her, moving boxes and negotiating furniture.  Her face is passive with a not-too-subtle stain of heartbreak – the cold sore on her lip seems to tell a story all it’s own.  Another woman, an older woman named Astrid (Ursina Lardi) is introduced and it takes us a moment to realize that she is the mother of Lisa (Lillian Amuat), Mara’s soon-to-be former roommate.

What occurs between these three women is really never nailed down.  This is not a film of dialogue but of looks, of spaces, of things unsaid.  Their expressions reveal dialogue that we are invited to interpret.  There is a closeness in the shots – the actors are mostly seen in tight shots from the bust-line up and often the women stand close to each other and look into one another eyes as if inviting us to guess the secret union between them.  What do they privately share?  Do they know each other’s secrets?  Were they partners in crime?  Did, at some point in the past, their friendly association turn sapphic?  It is a fun guessing game.

The narrative structure is fascinating.  The entire film takes place over two days as the move continues, boxes and furniture disappear and the personal association with other friends who pass through are revealed.  There is no single point of view.  Sometimes we see the story from one point of view.  Then later we see a fantasy sequence.  Then a minor character is introduced but never explained.  All are part of the tapestry of life and, as in our own lives, we see major and minor characters moving in and out of the picture.  Characters say things that mean nothing to us but, we sense, mean something to them.

If I sound like I am being vague on the actual details, it’s because that’s how the film plays out.  This is a Swiss production and if you are at all familiar with their cinematic history, then this film will come as no surprise to you.  There is a fragmented structure and the film offers us the opportunity to be an active participant and paint the details that the film leaves blank.  It is an approach that will probably put some people off.  If you’re a casual admirer of film, then this is probably not for you.  It’s a film geared more for the connoisseur.  I am, and I liked the challenged that it presented.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2021) View IMDB Filed in: Drama, Foreign