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Dennis Clegg is in his thirties and lives in a halfway house for the mentally ill in London. Dennis, nicknamed "Spider" by his mother has been institutionalized with acute schizophrenia for some 20 years. He has never truly recovered, however, and as the story progresses we vicariously experience his increasingly fragile grip on reality. Written by
Erwin van Moll <email@example.com>
There are always films that people will either see what the director was going for, or simply won't connect with the film. David Cronenberg's Spider is one of those films.
Many comparisons can be made between this film and the Ron Howard film A Beautiful Mind in that they both examine the complexities of mental illness. Whereas Howard took the glamorous Hollywood style approach -- complete with government agents and associated adventures -- Cronenberg continues to prove that less is more when it comes to film. Spider is significantly more effective in that it does not candy coat its subject, rather approaching the scenario with brute realism.
Cronenberg is certainly one of the most under-appreciated and misunderstood directors of our age in terms of popular appeal. His films are not for mass marketing and popcorn sales, but rather are psychologically and sociologically challenging to the viewer. Cronenberg films generally demand a surrender from the audience to an unsettling reality, and Spider is no different. The fractured perception offered by the protagonist as displayed through Cronenberg's eye is truly unique and refreshing.
If you are the type of person who is up for quick, easy entertainment, Spider is not your film. But, if you want to explore a brilliantly crafted submergence into the strange reality of a mentally ill person, Spider will leave you wanting more. Cronenberg has once again proved that there are few directors of his talent and skill. His ability to create a wholly original feel in film incomparable to any of his contemporaries is always welcomed by this viewer.
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