"Mr. Clegg... how many shirts are you wearing? One, two, three... four! Now really, is this absolutely necessary?"
"Oh indeed it is, Madam. Clothes maketh the man; and the less there is of the man, the more the need for the clothes."Spider is a 2002 psychological thriller from David Cronenberg starring Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne and Miranda Richardson, based on a book/screenplay by Patrick McGrath.It tells the story of a paranoid schizophrenic, the titular Spider (real name Dennis Clegg), who is released from a mental asylum into a halfway house in London. Here he relives his traumatic 1960s childhood as he tries to piece his life back together and come to terms with his madness.
Tropes used in this film include:
- And You Were There: Eventually, all the women in Adult Spider's life turn into his mother.
- And That Little Boy Was Me: That we're seeing a Flash Back isn't made apparent until we see Adult Spider repeat and eventually pre-empt Boy Spider's lines.
- Double Entendre: A staple of Yvonne's highly cultured conversation.
- Downer Ending: Spider is taken back to the asylum after nearly killing his landlady. But he appears to be starting to come to terms with the fact he killed his own mother.
- The Ending Changes Everything
- Fan Disservice: Pretty much any scene involving Yvonne. The base squickyness of the scene under the canal bridge is one notable example. Also, seeing the normally dashing Fiennes as a mumbling madman with scraggly hair and hand-me-down clothes is pretty jarring.
- Foreshadowing: Spider being afraid of the gas towers, staring at the canal under the bridge and crying in an allotment.
- Funny Schizophrenia/The Mentally Disturbed: Averted; this is a very anti-Hollywood portrayal of mental illness.
- Limited Wardrobe: Spider seems to wear his entire wardrobe at all times. Lampshaded in a quip from Terrence:Terrence: Clothes maketh the man; and the less there is of the man, the more the need of the clothes.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Spider characterizes women as either mother figures or whores enough that a hint of any sexuality turns a woman into Yvonne in his head - even his mother.
- Meaningful Name: Dennis Cleg is nicknamed 'Spider' by his mother because he likes to make webs with string. The movie is the story of his mental web being constructed and simultaneously unraveled.
- Mind Screw: It's a Cronenberg film.
- Pensieve Flashback: Much of the story is told through Spider's flashbacks where he watches himself as a young boy... even of scenes he couldn't possibly have seen.
- Really Gets Around: Yvonne. Or so Spider thinks; bearing the Unreliable Narrator in mind, we actually know almost nothing about her.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Adult Spider appears to wear his entire wardrobe at the same time; several pairs of trousers, many shirts and a hulking great shabby overcoat.
- Self-Made Orphan: A half-way example. Clegg is horrified to discover that he murdered his mother during one of his hallucinations as a kid. It's the reason he's been institutionalized ever since.
- Signature Style: The (long) Rorsharch-esque opening titles, crisp cinematography of mundane sets and mentally disturbed protagonists.
- There Are No Therapists: Truth in Television to an extent; schizophrenia is still a poorly understood illness, and at the period this film is set Britain was busy releasing mental patients into the public with little or no assistance under its Care in the Community programme.
- Thoroughly Mistaken Identity
- Through the Eyes of Madness
- Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Spider, an institutionalized paranoid schizophrenic, has very poor personal hygiene. He also constantly wears at least five layers of clothing which he never seems to change.
- The Unintelligible: As well as a bad case of the mumbles, Mr. Clegg writes constant gibberish in his journal.
- Unreliable Narrator: The story is filmed from the perspective of a paranoid schizophrenic.
- Windmill Crusader