Moviegoers who like to know what they’re getting into don’t typically opt for indie festivals, and that selection definitely falls into the genre-defying mystery that can come with something off the beaten path. The list of The Girl and the Spider on IMDb contains the descriptor “tragicomic disaster film”. We’re not sure what that means, but it seems awkward enough to do justice to this endeavor. Some of you will want to see it for that reason alone.
The Girl and the Spider mostly takes place in one of two apartments: the one shared by Mara (Henriette Confurius) and Lisa (Liliane Amuat), and the one that Lisa will soon share with Markus will share (Ivan Georgiev). While Lisa is packing and moving, she builds an entourage that includes her mother and a guy with a van that Mama is really keen on – everything is quietly housed in different hallways and window bays.
People seem to be telling each other stories rather than talking, and they do it in the midst of the slow work of cleaning an already immaculate German apartment and clearing a few things out of a messy, common place. We believe this apartment building is messy in more ways than one, with an elderly woman possibly stealing a cat along with kids throwing water balloons out of windows and in stairwells. Plus, that one chick that sleeps all day and roams the night never seems to fully dress and could actually be the actual spider the title is referring to. However, there are also: one or two real spiders; a little sex and longing; indicates that all characters betrayed or abandoned each other in complicated ways; and suggestions that they have paired and paired again, or at least want to.
And maybe it’s all supposed to be in metaphors. There is something beautiful about the presentation, even if it is ugly. Mara, who wears a herpes blister for all current scenes, is so complicated that director / writer Ramon Zürcher does not unpack. Is she having a breakdown or an epiphany, or is she just annoying like a cat knocking a vase off the table?
+ Relatable, poetic struggle of transition
– Did that go anywhere? We are not sure.
The girl and the spider
Directed by Ramon Zürcher and Silvan Zürcher
With Confurius, Amuat and Georgiev
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, NR, 99 min.