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Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, Philip Craig
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: Patrick McGrath

Spider is one is my new favorite films. It's a deceptively simple film with tremendous strength and performance value. Ralph Fiennes is mesmerizing.

Spider (played by uber "Thespian Head" brooding browed manly man, Ralph Fiennes) is a troubled man. He's been cast away from the sanatorium where he dwelled for decades only to be thrown into a world he neither recognizes or cares to be a part of. The pressure of his newfound freedom and the harrowing experiences in the halfway home of barely sane lads proves too much for him and he starts to slip inward to the crevices of his little webbed mind.

His story unravels and we flashback to see Spider, aka Denis Cleg (the younger role played by Bradley Hall), as a boy-child who is slowly going mad. Or does he? The boy believes his carousing father (Gabriel Byrne) has killed his mother for marital freedom. Hmm. But wouldn't any one notice if his mum just went away? What's a small boy to do in a situation like this? We watch as Spider weaves his tale of intrigue in his twisted meticulous way.

What's compelling about the film is the way its cast delivers the starch material. Avante Gard-arsty-farsty-get-a-load-of-this- one director David Cronenburg never shrinks from the surreal or blunt, and delivers his usual non-flair flair with delightfully metaphorical sets mixed with dark undertones of madness. Really, the cast gets the kudos for this one. They take about 300 words of script and sauté them into a remarkable story that leaves you with your jaw dropped in disbelief that something so simple can be so damn good!

Richardson gives a forceful double performance as both of Spider's obsessions. She'll always be "Queenie" from Black Adder to me - I admit it. After she's earned like 2908196354 awards from BAFTAs to Golden Globes this is always how I think of her. But it is out of love. She always has such an apparent ease in her roles. Mir makes it look easy. A true and immense talent. Watch for her name on the credits, you're only helping yourself.

It's no secret Ralph Fiennes is practically on the tippety top of the coveted "Mansteaks I'd Do In A Nanosecond " List, but it because of works like this. He's so friggin' talented it's like pure man heroin served with a bottle of thousand-dollar cognac! He's got the looks…. god knows he's got the looks…that make decent girls wanna jump on him like a rabid Rhesus monkey! I adore him on so many largely superficial levels as well as the AC-tor he is. Of course the infamously feminine & frilly "corset" scene in Onegin nearly ruined his sex-appeal for me...but one needs only to review End of the Affair or Wuthering Heights for a snuff of the lad to fall back into full scale smittendom. He gives an utterly brilliant performance here.

All involved give tour de-force performances. John Neville plays Spider's pseudo-friend Terrence and the scenes are electric! This kid Bradley Hall who plays young Spider has got one helluva screen presence. Then there's Lynn Redgrave who briefly graces our screen. She's of the famous Redgrave clan (the British Barrymores if you will) and never ever delivers less than perfection. Even the dreaded Gabrielle Byrne is great as the diabolical (in Spider's mind anyway) Bill Cleg.

Spider has so many different themes and tones strung through out you'll be thinking on it for weeks after viewing. I love that! It's rich slow and dark multileveled entertainment ala Cronenburg with a big fat dollop of thespian creme!

Snack recommendation: Toast cut in a perfect even little square, wrapped in string.

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