The Girl and the Spider plays like a nightmare for introverts. The film is mostly set in two apartments--one being moved out of, one being moved into--where doors are open to rooms, hallways, and opened by others to intimate situations with every conversation quietly observed by someone else. There's also the cacophony of dogs barking, a baby crying, the occasional jackhammer, discordant piano fumbling, and talking, talking. One might want to escape all of this, curl up in a ball and cloak the windows, like the eccentric downstairs neighbor in the picture, who sleeps through the day and only emerges at night for workouts, staring at the shoulders and back of the head of another gym-goer with furious spite and contorted desire. Swiss twin brothers and writer/directors Ramon and Silvan Zürcher helm a film with an almost bewildering sense of contained wildness, tensions, details, cutting dialogue and observations. There's a feeling of crafty witchcraft inherent in the tale and in its visuals too (the crawly little spider of the title, the pools of red wine that drip ominously and blood-like from a tabletop, a dreamlike flash of a lonely old woman dancing on a roof in a windy thunder and lightning rainstorm, as if summoning the spirits of the night).
A review of this film on first viewing almost seems inadequate, as the Zürchers' script is rife with boldness, trickeries and symbolism. Repeated journeys to this messy world will probably spark new ideas and discussions. It's reminiscent, in a way, to some of Rohmer's films: I'm thinking of Tale of Springtime in particular, for both its mood, its irritations and its nail-biting instabilities and sexual and emotional tensions. For anyone especially captivated by films about human behavior, The Girl and the Spider, is thrillingly satisfying as a movie in its eternal dissatisfaction.
After my screening, I picked up a couple Girl and the Spider keychains in a bowl outside of the theater. They are fitting promotional tchotchkes to attach to a ring of keys that could unlock doors to new homes and old homes, and an ironic one for a film with doors wide open to everyone. ***