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Internal madness is hypnotically externalized in David Cronenberg's Spider, a disturbing portrait of schizophrenia. Adapted by Patrick McGrath from his celebrated novel, this no-frills production begins when "Spider" Cleg (Ralph Fiennes, in a daring, nearly nonverbal role) returns to his childhood neighborhood in London's dreary East End, where a traumatic event from his past percolates to the surface of his still-erratic consciousness. Released from a mental institution and left to fend for himself, he pursues elusive memories while staying in a halfway house run by a stern matron (Lynn Redgrave), unable to distinguish between past, present, and psychological fabrication. The distorting influence of Spider's mind is directly reflected in Cronenberg's cunning visual strategy, presenting a shifting "reality" that's deliberately untrustworthy, until the veracity of nearly every scene is called into question. With an impressive dual-role performance by Miranda Richardson, Spider falls prey to its own lugubrious rhythms, but like the acclaimed 1995 indie film Clean, Shaven, it's a compelling glimpse of mental illness, seen from the inside out.

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Special Features "In the Beginning: How Spider Came to Be" featurette "Weaving the Web: The Making of Spider" featurette "Caught in Spider's Web: The Cast" featurette

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CO00373 Spider DVD (2002/David Cronenberg) $19.95 $17.99