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Paper Spiders

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2021

"Paper Spiders" is a 2020 drama film directed by Inon Shampanier and written by Natalie Shampanier. Set in Syracuse, New York, the movie stars Peyton List as Melanie, a high school senior whose widowed mother, Dawn (Lili Taylor), begins to display symptoms of a mental illness after Melanie leaves for college. As Dawn's paranoia and delusions worsen, Melanie must find a way to balance her own life and ambitions with her desire to help her mother. The film opens with Melanie and her best friend, Lacy (Stefania LaVie Owen), attending a college fair. Melanie has her sights set on a school in California, but her plans are disrupted when Dawn begins to act increasingly strange. She becomes convinced that their neighbor, a retired Vietnam veteran named Mr. Charles (Max Casella), is responsible for a series of break-ins in the neighborhood. Despite Melanie's attempts to reason with her, Dawn's suspicions escalate until she starts to see hallucinations of spiders crawling all over her body. As Dawn's behavior becomes more erratic, Melanie grows increasingly isolated. Her father is absent and her relationship with Lacy is strained by jealousy and miscommunication. The film explores several themes, including the challenges of caring for a loved one with a mental illness, the pressure on young adults to define their future, and the complicated dynamics of friendship. One of the strengths of "Paper Spiders" is its portrayal of mental illness. The movie avoids caricature and sensationalism, instead presenting a nuanced and compassionate view of Dawn's struggles. Lili Taylor gives a powerful performance as a woman torn between her love for her daughter and her fear of a world that seems to be closing in on her. Her interactions with Max Casella's character, who is ostracized by the community for his own mental instability, provide a poignant commentary on the stigma and isolation faced by those with mental illness. The film also features strong performances from Peyton List and Stefania LaVie Owen. List has previously been known for her roles in Disney productions, but she shows impressive range as Melanie. She conveys both the vulnerability and determination of a young woman trying to navigate a difficult situation. Owen, too, delivers a layered performance as Lacy, whose own insecurities and struggles are revealed over the course of the film. Although "Paper Spiders" deals with heavy subject matter, it also has moments of levity and warmth. The scenes between Melanie and Mr. Charles, who becomes an unexpected ally, are particularly charming. The film avoids easy solutions, but it does offer a message of hope and resilience. Overall, "Paper Spiders" is a moving and thought-provoking film. Its focus on characters and relationships sets it apart from other dramas about mental illness, and the performances are uniformly excellent. The movie is a testament to the power of storytelling to foster empathy and understanding.

Paper Spiders is a Drama movie released in 2021. It has a runtime of . Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.6. It also holds a MetaScore of 68.

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6.6/10
68/100
Director
Inon Shampanier
Genres
Also directed by Inon Shampanier
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