Spider is a hot-blooded, politically charged Chilean film set during and after the fascist rising against Allende, the first-ever democratically elected socialist president.
Directed by Andrés Wood, it is a story of love and betrayal, set against a bloody backdrop of political crises. The relationships mirror the political conflict: two intensely passionate men fight for one beautiful, temperamental and complex woman, just as two political ideals fight for Chile.
There are two distinct timelines in the film: one in the early 70s, just after the election of Allende and the other – woven cleverly through the first – is in the present day. They follow the same characters, and the relationships forged in the 1970s are explored in the modern setting. We see the ramifications – political and personal – throughout history, in the microcosm of their situation. We see political radicals as they grow old, how their ideals are preserved and actions defended. The scope of the film is ambitious, but the execution is mature and nuanced.
Spider is delivered with believable volatility. The pace is fast, the passion, the zeitgeist, and the danger of the time are all depicted in full force. Sexuality is a strong theme, galvanising the characters. The leading lady, played by both María Valverde and Mercedes Morán, uses sexuality to motivate and manipulate, just as the politicians do. The film shows how a group of young people can be radicalised by an idea, by what they believe to be a righteous cause. Politics and romance are imperceptibly intertwined.
The stories are told from the side of the young fascist radicals. There’s great tension in the film driven by the very palpable chemistry of the three main characters. With the decision to use a non-linear storyline, Wood has built a landscape in which you can visualise the long-term effects of Chilean political unrest. The characters cannot hide from the past, and Chile cannot hide from hers. The serious subject matter is not danced around; it is uncompromising, bordering upon gratuitous.
Spider is well made and compelling, examining a complicated and ultimately unclear love triangle and great political turmoil.
Young Ines and young Gerardo eat condensed milk very similar to the iconic scene in Machuca (2004) also directed by Andres Wood.