The Girl and the Spider

The Girl and the Spider ★★★★½

The great thing about watching a movie where "nothing happens" -- at least when the filmmaking is this meticulous -- is that it can instantaneously destroy bad viewing habits and re-wire one’s brain. The deployment of image and sound here (including a masterful use of off-screen sound) is deliberate to the point of being Bressonian, and the choreography of the performers is so precise as to feel like the mise-en-scene of Jacques Tati in miniature. The result is that, in a film where the entire plot can accurately be summarized as "a woman moves out of her apartment," the smallest gestures and subtlest glances start to feel positively freighted with dramatic weight and meaning. The most banal actions and the simplest dialogue exchanges are, all of a sudden, seemingly suffused with hidden emotions (jealousy, anger, sexual longing, dread), leading the viewer to contemplate the high comedy and tragedy of “everyday life.” And the way the action is broken up into vignettes, separated by montages featuring shots of prominent objects in the central apartment location, gives the whole thing a structural elegance and a pleasing musical flow. Bravo, Zurcher brothers.

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