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Spider is a 2002 psychological thriller from David Cronenberg starring Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne and Miranda Richardson, based on a book/screenplay by Patrick McGrath . It tells the story of a paranoid schizophrenic, the titular Spider (real name Dennis Clegg), who is released from a mental asylum into a halfway house in London. Here he relives his traumatic 1950's childhood as he tries to piece his life back together and come to terms with his madness.
Tropes used in this film include:
- Acting for Two: Miranda Richardson plays
twothree distinctly different roles in this film, two of which were played by different actresses earlier in the film. Her performances are so distinctly different that many people don't notice the change on the first viewing.
- And That Little Girl Was Me: That we're seeing a Flash Back isn't made apparent until we see Adult Spider repeat and eventually pre-empt Boy Spider's lines.
- Award Snub: Despite almost universal praise from critics, the film was ignored at Cannes and the Oscars.
- Doing It for the Art / No Budget: Most of the actors, as well as the director and producers, deferred their wages so that the film could be made with it's minimal budget of $8m.
- Double Entendre: A staple of Yvonne's highly cultured conversation.
- Downer Ending: Spider is taken back to the asylum after nearly killing his landlady. But he appears to be starting to come to terms with the fact he killed his own mother.
- The Ending Changes Everything
- Fan Disservice: Pretty much any scene involving Yvonne. The base squickyness of the scene under the canal bridge is one notable example. Also, seeing the normally dashing Fiennes as a mumbling madman with scraggly hair and hand-me-down clothes is pretty jarring.
- Flash Back: Much of the story is told through Spider's flashbacks... even of scenes he couldn't possibly have seen.
- Foreshadowing: Spider being afraid of the gas towers, staring at the canal under the bridge and crying in an allotment.
- Funny Schizophrenia / The Mentally Disturbed: Averted; this is a very anti-Hollywood portrayal of mental illness.
- Growing the Beard: This was the film that marked Cronenberg's transition from Body Horror to intense psychological drama that would later be seen in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Voldemort is the son of Keaton and Mad Queen Bess!
- Meaningful Name: Dennis Cleg is nicknamed Spider by his mother because he likes to make webs with string. The movie is the story of his mental web being constructed and simultaneously unravelled.
- Mind Screw: It's a Cronenberg film.
- Really Gets Around: Yvonne.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Adult Spider appears to wear his entire wardrobe at the same time; several pairs of trousers, many shirts and a hulking great shabby overcoat.
- Signature Style: The (long) Rorsharch-esque opening titles, crisp cinematography of mundane sets and mentally disturbed protagonists.
- There Are No Therapists: Truth in Television to an extent; schizophrenia is still a poorly understood illness, and at the period this film is set Britain was busy releasing mental patients into the public with little or no assistance under its Care in the Community programme.
- Thoroughly Mistaken Identity
- Through the Eyes of Madness
- The Unintelligible: As well as a bad case of the mumbles, Mr. Cleg writes constant gibberish in his journal.
- Unreliable Narrator: The story is filmed from the perspective of a paranoid schizophrenic.
- Windmill Crusader