Review: Das Madchen und die Spinne (2021)


Das Madchen und die Spinne (2021)

Directed by: Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher | 99 minutes | drama | Actors: Henriette Confurius, Liliane Amuat, Ursina Lardi, Flurin Giger, André Hennicke, Ivan Georgiev, Dagna Litzenberger-Vinet, Lea Draeger, Sabine Timoteo, Birte Schnöink, Yuna Andres, Ella Gfeller, Dorian Heiniger, Margherita Schoch, Philippe Schualer Schweiger

Reviewing brings its challenges. One of the trickier ones is avoiding spoilers. How much can you tell about a plot without ruining the viewing experience? Tell too little, and the viewer has no idea what the film is about. Tell too much, and the viewer misses the charm of the surprise, the unexpected denouement. The search for the balance between those extremes is where the headache begins.

Then it’s nice to review a film like ‘Das Mädchen und die Spinne’, a Swiss arthouse enigma about which there is nothing to spoiler. The film is about one Lisa, a young woman who moves with the help of friends and family. The night before the move, she throws another party. Then comes the move. No more.

You often see a plotless film like this in the arthouse, but then there are often dramatic elements to sharpen things up (such as the threat of violence or the implosion of a relationship). Another time it revolves around committed social criticism. But none of that in ‘Das Mädchen und die Spinne’.

It is difficult to say what the film is about. The actual lead is for Lisa’s friend Mara, an observant, intense and disturbing type. What the exact relationships are within Lisa’s circle of friends and family is often not entirely clear, which results in a nice puzzle for the viewer. But in the end it’s all about the constant dance of attraction and repulsion, the desire for intimacy and the fear of it.

That dance comes to us in the guise of many, many, many dialogues. A bit in the style of the talk films of French legend Eric Rohmer. The characters talk about love, sex, desire and aversion, often in the form of stories. We see Lisa’s mother falling for construction worker Jurek. We see the lonely Mrs. Arnold and her love for a runaway cat. We follow the searching, half-longing gaze of the mysterious Mara.

‘Das Mädchen und die Spinne’ is filmically held together by recurring elements such as a runaway cat, a sponging dog, holes from which wine runs and fluttering down. There are also the colorful images, with a striking amount of yellow and red. All this leads to an enjoyable film, which is at the same time too self-absorbed and inscrutable to really make an impression

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