Das Mädchen und die Spinne / The girl and the spider

I find it difficult to write anything much about Das Mädchen und die Spinne apart from a rough summary of the plot. Two flat mates are in the process of becoming ex-flat mates as one is moving out. A variety of family, workmen and neighbours come in and out. Conversations are had. Things a broken. Women take their tops off, often for no apparent reason.

That’s pretty much all that I noticed happening. But as this played in the Berlinale, it obviously contained much more import than my little brain is able to process, so here’s what the critics had to say:

“ Lisa’s new and old neighbours bring additional tensions to the atmosphere, so that the entire film becomes a very big, oscillating mood.”

“That most close quarters of activities, sex, becomes more physical than emotional while conversations at one remove thrum with unspoken feelings as the opposing desires for connection and independence spark against one another, crackling with unresolved possibilities.“

“The hyper-stylized aesthetics that the directors bestow to their film give it a kind of otherworldly feeling.”

“this is an observational look at people and how change shape-shifts their wants and desires into newer, more essential things”

“The two central characters … really are together apart in this microcosm of shifting spaces and relationships which dances irrevocably into the existential even as it remains pertly banal.”

“Not quite a stream of consciousness but certainly not contained by the fear of any sort of social backlash, each apartment setting is teeming with people so intensely set on connection their energies seem to feverishly melt away the possibility of intimacy or sentiment.“

“Zürcher spins byzantine webs of audiovisual stimuli from an ultimately modest dramatic core, and not only is the larger narrative design unclear before it’s finally revealed, it’s easy to get stuck dwelling on the minutia along the way.”

“The relentless uprooting in the mise-en-scène—further underlined by a construction project occurring outside the new building—mirrors the evident splintering of Lisa and Mara’s alternately platonic and erotically charged relationship.”

“Across a series of parties, sexual encounters and conversations, the Zürchers recall the kind of 1970s psychological horror that Nicolas Roeg or Roman Polanski might have made. “

“one gets the distinct impression that repeat viewings will uncover countless small clues to this line of thinking. Either way, this is a startlingly intense experience”

That was 2 quotes each from all except one of the English-language reviews in IMDB (to save me having to translate, I stuck to these). If you read the reviews alphabetically (how else), that’s a lot to wade through before you get to Emma Kiely’s fine review for The Upcoming:

“There’s a well-known stereotype that art cinema is tedioud and pretentious just because it doesn’t adhere to Hollywood tropes; but some films can be difficult to relate to and to find meaning in. The Girl and the Spider does not evoke any real reaction, emotion or feeling, falling flat and ultimately proving unmemorable. It is 100 minutes of a group of beautiful, thin actors standing around staring at each other saying, feeling and communicating nothing. There are some attempts at side plots that include a fine amount of nudity, but the overall feel of the picture is an apathetic, robotic attempt at showcasing human experiences. This feature wastes its actors on hollow and passive characters, with a script that seems like it was inspired by teenage Tumblr posts and an acid trip went awry.”

There is one User Review, which I’ll quote (and translate) in full:

“Wow … einfach wow. Selten so einen schlechten Film gesehen. Weiß gar nicht was man dazu sagen soll…auf jeden Fall nicht: das ist richtig”

“Wow … simply wow. Rarely see such a bad film. Have no idea what one should say about it … definitely not: that is right”

Users 1, Critics 0 is all I’m saying

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