As followers of this blog know, I do not easily recommend or review movies. Today I’m making an exception because yesterday Ruth and I watched a film that was so good that I want people to see it. It’s called Paper Spiders.
What the title means, viewers will not fully grasp until near the end of this very fine, original, relevant, and well-written film. I don’t often agree with Rotten Tomato reviewers, but I do agree that Paper Spiders is 100% worthy. Avi Offer submitted her evaluation to Rotten Tomatoes and called this movie “genuinely heartfelt, funny, and captivating.” I agree with Avi. She goes on to call Paper Spiders “warm, wise, and wonderful.” It’s one hour and 49 minutes of a mother/daughter drama that attempts to explain to viewers how to help someone who is genuinely paranoid. It is in many ways not an easy film to watch. Mental health issues have taken on new relevance in the past 14 or so months as our society has dealt with the familial closeness that resulted from our society virtually shutting down.
Paper Spiders stars a woman who has gone our of her way to have an under-the-radar career, Lili Taylor. I ‘m imagining right now that most of you are saying, “Who?” I have been a big fan of hers since seeing the movie Dogfight. In this early career masterpiece, Lili Taylor took on a role that most actresses wouldn’t touch and performed brilliantly. Lili Taylor has been in 60 films during her career and done a lot of television to pay the bills. Among other TV shows, she has been on Six Feet Under. She has been a nominated actress, but to my knowledge has never won a major award for a performance. This is a shame that Paper Spiders may change. Taylor is now 54 years old and has been married for 11 years. She has one child who appears to be a female.
Taylor is not the only great performer in Paper Spiders. All of the actors in this film are exceptional. As her daughter, Stefanie LaVie Owen is especially noteworthy. It can’t be easy to match wits with an actress as skilled as Lili Taylor, but Owen does and is brilliant in the role of her daughter. As we watched this excellent drama, Ruth and I speculated about who would turn out to be the hero of this family-quandary film. Owen’s name often came up, but she does not emerge as the ultimate hero. I was impressed enough with her that I googled her name to learn something about her. Owen is identified as New Zealand/American and the star of a teen drama named Running Wilde that I have never seen. I am interested in tracking it down now. “Perfect for the roll” describe the man who plays a school counselor, the woman who plays an involved police officer who gets into the unfolding of events, the young actor who plays the daughter’s love interest, the woman who plays the accused neighbor’s wife, and actually everyone in this movie.
To view Paper Spiders for now, you must have access to Apple TV, Google Play, or another streaming service that carries it. Word will quickly spread about how good it is, so I suspect that it will be more widely available soon.