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SPIDER

David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Patrick McGrath’s novel Spider begins with a montage of wallpaper stains taking the form of sinister Rorschach blots, and if this opening credit sequence had continued for another 90 minutes, it probably would have shed more light on the nature of madness and the mind than the dreary, predictable melodrama that follows. Ralph Fiennes tries to do Russell Crowe’s A Beautiful Mind madman one better by creating a character devoid of all interest and credibility. As the lost soul of the title, he twitches and mutters his way through the dusty confines of a London halfway house for the criminally insane where, when he’s not sniffing gas stoves and collecting string, he’s having flashbacks to a sordid childhood in which his father (Gabriel Byrne) may or may not have murdered his mother (Miranda Richardson) in order to have his way with a blowzy trollop (Richardson again). Do I see some acting out of the Oedipal complex here? Although some may argue that since this film is so irredeemably dull and unpleasant it must be art, I still prefer Hitchcock’s take on the same subject in Psycho. (98 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: March 13 - 20, 2003
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