Dir: Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher | Cast: Henriette Confurius, Liliane Amuat, Ursina Lardi, Flurin Giger, André M. Hennicke, Ivan Georgiev, Dagna Litzenberger Vinet, Lea Draeger, Sabine Timoteo, Birte Schnöink | Switzerland 2021German 98’
The Girl and the Spider is an ambiguous puzzle of a film exploring the anatomy of a messy break-up. Dreams and anecdotes keep us entertained, while pets – a cat and a dog – steal the limelight.
This second feature from Swiss twins Ramon and Silvain Züricher (Das merkwürdige Kätzchen) sees Lisa (Amuat) leaving Mara (Confurius) to stay in their polyamorous flatshare. Chaos reigns throughout, Lisa’s mum (Ladri) flirts with removal man Jurek (Hennicke) while overseeing the move. Mara swears “Fuck you!”, with Lisa answering “Later, first I move out”. suggesting that all may not be lost.
Clearly though the relationship has hit rock-bottom when Lisa insists on taking the dishwasher, telling Mara “you will never leave this dump, you’ll kick the bucket here”. To complicate matters Jan (Geiger) and Kerstin (Litzenberger-Vinet) also share this female centric ‘love-in’. Jan seems to be keen on Mara. Then there is Nora (Draeger), who spends a great deal of her time in bed asleep.
A young boy and a girl, possibly neighbours, add to the mayhem. And Mrs. Arnold (Schoch), who stole the neighbour’s cat (who is now biting through cables), but has since returned it. The piano will stay in the flat as it belongs to the chambermaid (Schnöink), who once owned the place and is now working as a cleaning supervisor on a cruise ship – not that her short story makes anything clearer.
DoP Alexander Haßkerl conveys the general claustrophobia of this polyamorous set-up that takes place entirely within the confines of the cramped scenario, an obvious nod to the pandemic age, its residents and relationships in continual flux. The titular Spider story creates a constant formal tension in an aesthetically convincing, jumbled mayhem, but the lack of a satisfying narrative arc leaves us wanting more. AS
BERLINALE | SILVER BEAR | Best Director Ex aequo | ENCOUNTERS