Moviegoers who like to know what they’re in for don’t typically choose indie fests, and this selection definitely falls into the genre-defying mystery that can come with something off the beaten path. The Girl and the Spider’s listing on IMDb includes the descriptor “tragicomic catastrophe film.” We’re not sure what that means, but it seems awkward enough to suit this endeavor. Some of you will want to see it for that reason alone.
Extremely light on dialog and heavy on long, penetrating stares, The Girl and the Spider takes place largely in one of two apartments: the one Mara (Henriette Confurius) and Lisa (Liliane Amuat) share, and the one Lisa will soon share with Markus (Ivan Georgiev). As Lisa packs and moves, she incorporates an entourage that includes her mother and a guy with a van that Mom sorta has the hots for—all calmly crammed into various hallways and window bays.
The people seem to tell each other stories rather than having conversations, and they do it amidst the slow busywork of cleaning an already impeccable German flat and moving a few items out of a more messy, shared spot. We’re led to think this apartment building is messy in more ways than one, with an elderly woman who might be stealing a cat along with kids who drop water balloons out windows and in stairwells. Plus, the one chick who sleeps all day and roams the night, never seems to get fully dressed, and might, in fact, be the actual spider to which the title refers. There’s also, however: a real spider or two; a bit of sex and longing; hints that all the characters have betrayed or let each other down in complicated ways; and suggestions they’ve coupled and recoupled or at least want to.
And maybe it’s all intended to run in metaphor. There’s something lovely about the presentation, even when it’s unlovely. Mara, who wears a herpes blister for all present-time scenes, is complicated in a way that director/writer Ramon Zürcher does not unpack. Is she having a breakdown or an epiphany or is she just ornery like a cat that knocks a vase off a table?
+Relatable, poetic struggle of transition
-Did this go somewhere? We’re not sure.
The Girl and the Spider
Directed by Ramon Zürcher and Silvan Zürcher
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, NR, 99 min.