The Movie Waffler New Release Review [MUBI] - THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER | The Movie Waffler


the girl and the spider review
A young woman beguiles various people during an apartment move.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher

Starring: Henriette Confurius, Liliane Amuat, Ursina Lardi, Flurin Giger, André Hennicke, Ivan Georgiev, Dagna Litzenberger-Vinet

The Girl and the Spider poster

It's often said that moving home is one of the most stressful experiences you can endure. That certainly seems to be the case in twin brothers Ramon and Silvan Zurcher's The Girl and the Spider. The film plays out across two days in which a young woman is moving from one apartment to another. The Zurchers fill these two spaces with a bunch of horny but frosty Central Europeans, which is more often than not a recipe for cinematic success.

The Girl and the Spider review

The departing girl is Lisa (Liliane Amuat), leaving behind roommate Mara (Henriette Confurius). Though the movie never says as much - this being a film in which very little is clearly articulated by either its characters or creators - Lisa and Mara's uncomfortable interactions create the impression of two estranged lovers parting ways. The decision seems wholly taken on Lisa's part, as Mara behaves in a manner that suggests she's still game for whatever might have gone down between them.

The title refers to an anecdote Mara tells about how upset she was as a little girl when the spider that visited her bedroom every night eventually disappeared. But Mara is something of a spider herself, and the more we learn about her, the clearer it becomes that Lisa is fleeing her web before she finds herself so entangled that she can't escape. With her hypnotic blue eyes concealing a sociopath's mind, it seems nobody can escape Mara's seductive lure. Smitten by Mara's charms are a young handyman (Flurin Giger), Lisa's new single mother neighbour, a young girl who works in a coffee shop across the street from her apartment, and perhaps even Lisa's mother Astrid (Ursina Lardi), all of whom gaze longingly at the young woman, almost turned into zombies by the power of her allure.

The Girl and the Spider review

Various relationship triangles form within the Zurchers' drama, but perhaps the most curious is that between Mara, Lisa and Astrid. Lisa and her mother don’t seem the closest, culminating in a moment of heartbreaking cruelty. On the other hand, Mara and Astrid laugh at one another's jokes, and it seems Astrid sees in Mara the young woman she may have once been herself, or perhaps wishes she had the courage to become.

Despite being confined to a handful of rooms, the Zurchers manage to keep their film visually alive. Their camera is always focusing in on small details, often the hands of Mara, who is always poking holes in objects and touching things she shouldn't. The film visualises the many stories Mara seemingly makes up at the drop of a hat (like many sociopaths, she's developed a knack for storytelling). The recurring use of two pieces of music – Eugen Doga's Gramofon Waltz and a piano cover of Desireless's Voyage Voyage – add to the curiously Central European melancholy on display.

The Girl and the Spider review

There's a lot going on within the walls of the Zurchers' two locations, so much so that I suspect it would take two or three viewings to fully wrap your head around exactly what the film is trying to say. There are several visual parallels - like how Mara's piercing of a styrophone cup echoes a workman's drill in the street outside and the hole left in the lip of a flatmate who had a piercing removed – that are clearly meant to suggest something that I couldn’t quite pick up on a first viewing. The Girl and the Spider may warrant a return visit; this is a narrative web that requires a considerable amount of disentangling.

The Girl and the Spider is on MUBI UK from June 15th.

2022 movie reviews