THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER, a weekend of quiet revelation

Nearly a decade after their spellbinding feature debut, The strange little catSwiss-born twin brothers Silvan & Ramon Zürcher return with the equally subtle and profound The girl and the spider.

It’s the weekend that Lisa (Liliane Amuat) leaves the apartment she shares with Mara (Henriette Confurius) and Markus (Ivan Georgiev). One Saturday afternoon, the millennial roommates gather at Lisa’s new place with Lisa’s mother, Astrid (Ursina Lardi), and a team of father and son handymen. Amid the weekend’s upheaval, Mara and Lisa circle each other, sharing fleeting glances and gestures back and forth through new and old rooms; the young women seem to be filled with a strange mixture of lust, regret, rumination and dry mirth.

As the story returns to the old apartment, night falls and a party begins. friends and neighbors gather; Jan (Flurin Giger), the handyman’s son introduces himself. Kerstin (Dagna Litzenberger-Vinet), across the hall, pulls out her chin piercing. Mara asks Kerstin if she ever let wine drip from the hole in her skin. When Mara apologizes, Jan rolls cigarettes with Kerstin. Lisa dances in a multitude of bodies, wearing a blue wig that Astrid originally made from her own hair when she was pregnant with Lisa. Lisa dyed the wig blue when she inherited it.

Late at night, as the festivities have died down, a thunderstorm rolls in. Mara’s window opens. When she wakes up scared, she cuts her head on the edge. Opposite, in Kerstin’s room, she dances her fingers over the lower abdomen of a naked Jan, sound asleep. From the half-open door, Kerstin’s reclusive roommate Nora (Lea Draeger) watches as the young man wakes up and kisses Kerstin.

Sunday morning arrives and the packing continues. As day once again turns to night, we begin to see the friendship between Mara and Lisa perhaps meeting its natural end; or simply just a first little death; a moment in limbo, before things settled into a new rhythm.

Working with cinematographer Alexander Haßkerl in static medium close-ups and medium wide shots of apartment rooms and a largely rotating array of faces, supported by Confurius’ pensive and arresting performance as Mara, the vision patient and demanding of the Zürcher twins paints an alluring picture watch the dance of humans in everyday moments of work, play, grace, bitterness, contemplation and rest. As in The strange little catall the great cinematographic gestures that appear in The girl and the spider are kept on the fringes of the dreams, memories, imaginations and wild abandon of the stormy night of old Mrs. Arnold, Mara’s upstairs neighbor.

An ingrained cinematic symbolism picks up pace through small chance motifs based on fragility, creativity and caprice. Examples of broken appliances, broken dishes, cuts and bruises, glitchy PDFs, children’s drawings of apartment life, and Mara’s striking and intimate portraits of the people in her life are intertwined with a nervous dog, a lonely cat and the titular spider. These patterns play into the hushed, sometimes harsh and slightly bizarre daydreams of human contact, pleasure and connection that are at the heart of The girl and the spider.

Because in the world of Zürcher, the smartphone is only one more useful accessory stored in the pocket of a coat. Instead, the chemical rush of social media is found in the slowness of a cigarette. As such, there is a nice arc of presence in these people’s lives. It is about tangible and tactile things. It’s about the intensity and the possibility of the other person in front of you or behind you; of the person moving by your side or on the balconies above and below. This is how casual looks turn into intense looks. This is how a joke precedes a wound and memory becomes a sister to the future as much as it is to the past.

Moving through these poetic yet naturalistic microcosms, the brothers explore an existential scale that ultimately unfolds into almost unfathomable and unsettling depths, reminiscent of both the painful human epics of Krzysztof Kieslowski and the startlingly opaque cinema of Angela Schanelec. .

It is in the precise and impactful use of “media-res” by the “Zürchers” that empathy for humans and human objects comes into play. This softly divine touch brings with it a cinematic magic that traces variations themes of loss, transition and perception with such undeniable and moving effect that I am in awe and filled with appreciation for what is one of the best films of the year. .

The film opens April 8 in New York through Cinema Guild before rolling out to select cities nationwide. Visit the official website for theater locations and other information.

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