The Girl and the Spider – Toronto 2021

The Girl and the Spider. Courtesy of TIFF.

The Girl and the Spider (Das Mädchen und die Spinne) is a subtle drama that explores the emotions that come when a roommate moves out.

Lisa (Liliane Amuat) is finally moving out of the apartment and leaving roommate Mara (Henriette Confurius) behind. There’s a whirlwind of emotions that come with Lisa packing up her stuff. It’s a new start for Lisa, who lived there for years with Mara and Markus (Ivan Georgiev). As this era comes to a close, all sort of dynamics are popping up between people. Lisa’s mother, Astrid (Ursina Lardi), is seen flirting with one of the moving guys, Jurek (André M. Hennicke). Meanwhile, Jan (Flurin Giger), one of the movers, eyes Mara but she has no interest in him. This is how Jan ends up with Kerstin (Dagna Litzenberger Vinet). While all this is going on, new neighbor Karen (Sabine Timoteo) shows up–Lisa hits it off immediately with her but the same can’t be said for Mara.

Things play out through the night at the going away party before moving day finally becomes official. A lot is happening and you really have to follow the characters as it does. Even though Mara and Lisa form the core of the film, it’s a true ensemble. The themes of separation and loneliness might hit even harder thanks to the pandemic. Even as characters find themselves getting close to each other, the rubber band can always snap itself out of place. At the same time, I cannot help myself but wonder if Lisa and Mara were more than roommates. The script never makes it clear but with the way they look at each other, one can only assume something more is there. Perhaps this is why Lisa is moving out?

The production design takes advantage of an empty brewery with the building of two apartments. Hey, if you can’t find an actual apartment, just find a large empty warehouse and create a makeshift soundstage! It certainly works for the film even if you don’t initially see it. A few scenes are set outside but otherwise audiences are confined to the interiors at one apartment or another. This film also owes a bit to the great comedy filmmaker, Ernst Lubitsch, when it comes to the use of doors.

It is not an understatement to describe the Zürcher brothers film as a tragicomic catastrophe. To be fair, I did find myself laughing a bit. They draw on their own experiences with having lived together. Of course, the moving out only serves to inspire the bigger story that the brothers are telling. What happens when one moves out? And what will this mean for their roommate after so many years of living together? One of the things they do well in this film is a psychological character study. And again, so many characters are going back and forth with each other.

Much like a spider, The Girl and the Spider features a web of thrilling intrigue.

DIRECTORS:/SCREENWRITERS 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

The Girl and the Spider (Das Mädchen und die Spinne) holds its North American premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the Wavelengths program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.