Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – 7:30pm
Canada/Great Britain 2002. Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave, John Neville

David Cronenberg’s magnificent, bleak Spider stars Ralph Fiennes in a tour-de-force performance as Dennis Clegg, nicknamed “Spider” during childhood because of a fascination with arachnids. After thirty years in a facility for the mentally ill, he is released to an East End London halfway house, where he receives little care or attention from the landlady (Lynn Redgrave). Unsupervised and off his medication, he starts revisiting his childhood haunts, and reliving his lonely working-class boyhood as the only son of a hard-drinking plumber (Gabriel Byrne) and his subdued wife (Miranda Richardson). Disturbing memories of his father’s attempts to replace his mother in the household with a blousy, blonde seductress (also played by Richardson) confuse Spider and threaten his (perhaps delusion) grasp on the past, and he spirals into fresh madness. Adapted by Patrick McGrath from his own 1990 novel, Spider “is the film that Shine and A Beautiful Mind could not be, a story about schizophrenia that doesn’t neatly resolve its complex subject matter” (Darrin Keene, Film Threat). “More poetic than clinical in its approach to schizophrenia, suffused with existential dread, this evocation of psychological torment is both sensationally grim and exquisitely realized” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice). Colour, 35mm, 98 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Dr. Randall F. White, a psychiatrist and the medical director of the B.C. Psychosis Program at UBC Hospital. He is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at UBC and a medical writer who contributes to, and he maintains a blog related to psychosis at

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.


“Spider is, in fact, a marvel, but it’s also prickly, slow, withdrawn, and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.”

Boston Globe | full review

“The details of the film and of the performances are meticulously realized; there is a reward in seeing artists working so well.”

Chicago Sun-Times full review

“Cold as the film may seem, Cronenberg’s nightmare talent has rarely been at such a high, terrifying boil.”

Chicago Tribune | full review


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