The Girl and The Spider – Review

The Girl and The Spider“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

Having reflected on Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s The Girl and The Spider, this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote seems apt. So often, throughout this film, we are treated to the longing gazes of the cast of characters. They are reminiscing about times past; regretting opportunities missed. For the most part, they are “staring blankly”, as if through the viewer and into the abyss.

The Girl and The Spider, categorically, will not be everyone’s taste. It’s one of those oozing, subtext-laden slow burns where, objectively, nothing really happens. It centres around Mara (Henriette Confurius), an introverted soul who suddenly finds herself truly alone. Her world, as far as she is concerned, is falling apart as her room-mate, Lisa (Liliane Amuat) finds a new apartment to move into. In amongst the flurry of activity – removal men, handy men, friends and family – Mara ponders the complexity of human relationships.

This film feels intimate to the point of intrusion. The tight corridors and layouts of the two apartments that the characters move between genuinely make you feel like you, the viewer, are in the way of work getting done. The camera frames each character beautifully. If they are in conversation, we are there, too, standing just behind their shoulder. If they are thinking or pausing, we get striking mid-shots, where we feel like we are face to face with them. It really heightens this notion that it’s not just Mara who is an eavesdropper; a voyeur.

There is an electric undercurrent running through the film. Every look, every pause feels positively laden with hidden meaning. The dialogue largely comprises of nonsensical stories, recollection of dreams or memories from childhood, so it really relies on these gorgeous close ups and pauses to tell the real story here. You get the vibe that Mara and Lisa were more than just room-mates; you get a sense that Lisa’s relationship with her mother is becoming increasingly strained. Every prolonged silence feels so loaded. It’s not a comfortable quietness.

In amongst this silence is an exaggerated use of sound. In the apartment, the kettle squeals and whistle; the tap drips; a fly is crushed with a nauseating crunch. From the apartment block and beyond, a dog barks; children scream; handymen call to each other; roadworks start up. The world truly is moving on around Mara, as she limply moves from room to room, seeking some sort of connection that she, herself, can’t quite vocalise. The use of Eugen Doga’s Gramofon Waltz is a really nice touch – it’s a suitably quirky and stirring piece of music for a film that also aims to be both.

The Girl and The SpiderIn both the current and prospective apartment blocks, there is a sense of lives constantly overlapping. Neighbours pop in to say hello to Lisa in her new home – quickly establishing a need for babysitters and dog watchers. As she moves out, years of friendships are cherished and celebrated over cups of coffee, offers of help and a farewell party. It’s clear that, within this block, relationships (romantic or otherwise) have been established in a quick and intense manner. Mara describes loneliness as both desire and pain; melting into someone like lava, making separation unbearable. It kind of refutes any notions of apartment blocks being faceless, individual dwellings. There are connections here – ones that, in Mara’s view, merit that penetrating level of devotion and despair.

Beyond this little microcosm of life, Mara seems to become destabilised. Faced with the prospect of losing Lisa out of her life, not just the apartment, she begins to act out. She pours hot coffee on a dog; she picks at a hang nail and a cold sore until they bleed; she pierces a cup of red wine and destroys her leaving gift to Lisa; she is visceral in her take down of a man who professes his interest in her. She has an energy that people feel visibly uncomfortable around. It’s like she doesn’t know how to communicate her loneliness beyond small acts of aggression.

The Girl and The Spider is, on the surface, a film about how relationships are formed and how they break down. It ruminates over how we change and evolve; our endless capacity to move on. It uses its introverted protagonist to allow us, as viewers, a glimpse into a small snippet of life, giving us free rein to people watch on an extreme level. It’s an intimate, uncomfortable and fascinating piece of cinema.

The Girl and The Spider is screening at the Glasgow Film Festival 2022. Click here to get your tickets.

Mary Munoz
Follow Me
Latest posts by Mary Munoz (see all)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.