Dennis "Spider" Cleg (Ralph Fiennes) is a mentally disturbed man who has to live in a halfway house in London which happens to be located in the neighbourhood where he spent his childhood. Besides, he has never really recovered from his mental illness because of something his father (Gabriel Byrne) did during his childhood. As Dennis visits the neighbourhood, he pieces together many fragments of his childhood memories that make us understand how he gradually became a schizophrenic.
Obviously, Spider is not your usual film that plunges you right away in the action. In fact, as the film begins, it's suggested that something is wrong with the mental condition of Ralph Fiennes' character. This is why Patrick McGrath, the scriptwriter and also the writer of the novel of the same name, expected viewers to be interested in the events that led to the leading character's descent into insanity during his childhood. All in all, this certainly looks like a good idea on a paper: a film that reveals slowly but surely its raison d'être just like a Russian doll if you know what I mean.
However, while some may like this approach (like me), others will cringe because at 98 minutes, the film might look long. On another note, the performance in this film shows us that this is the best film directed by David Cronenberg. As Dennis Cleg/Spider, a mentally disturbed character of few words, Ralph Fiennes delivers a memorable performance. He's well supported by Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave.
Finally, if you like a psychological thriller like A Tale of Two Sisters, you're definitely going to like this gem by Canadian director David Cronenberg. Of course, the film is a little bit predictable, but who cares? It's one of those films that unfold its story before your eyes without mindless plot twist thanks to a leading character elaborated with many layers of complexity.
Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Bradley Hall and Lynn Redgrave