With “The Girl and the Spider,” the Swiss filmmakers Ramon and Silvan Zürcher, the identical twins behind the exceptional debut “The Strange Little Cat,” have made their second feature in a row that invites viewers to get lost in an apartment — or in this case, more than one.
Set over two days, “The Girl and the Spider,” in its simplest outlines, tells the story of how Mara (Henriette Confurius) helps Lisa (Liliane Amuat), her roommate, move into a place of her own. We spend time in the new apartment and meet others assisting with chores, then return to the old place (and some friends’ apartment on a lower floor) for a farewell party that night. Everybody wakes up the next day burned out. By sunset, Mara and Lisa’s friendship will have entered a new phase.
But a synopsis could barely describe how thoroughly the Zürchers — the credits list Ramon as director but call it “a film by” both of them — have confounded a sense of the ordinary. It’s not just that certain behavior seems off. (Mara professes to “lie without batting an eyelid.”) The shooting and editing are wildly unconventional.
Entrances go unestablished. Shots fixate on odd details. Cuts react to offscreen noises and dialogue. (The clamorous sound design is as offbeat as the visuals.) Flashbacks and flights of fancy arrive out of the blue. The 1980s French hit “Voyage Voyage” — heard in bits on piano, then in pop form, then on piano again — becomes a disorienting motif.
The movie opens with a shot of a floor plan that Mara has made for Lisa (she notes that a malfunction briefly scrambled the PDF), and the Zürchers in effect ask viewers to map their way through a tangle of spaces and relationships, with flirtations and suspicions peeking through the corners. The film demands and rewards repeat viewings; it’s different, and more entrancing, every time.
The Girl and the Spider
Not rated. In German, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. In theaters.