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by Jenny Mather

Andres Wood, Chile/Argentina/Brazil

In the early Seventies a charismatic socialist leader was elected president of Chile. Left-leaning people in other countries watched with interest to see how a freely elected, democratically elected, communist country would develop. We know what happened to President Salvador Allende and this movie provides a glimpse into the lives of some of those who overthrew him.  SPIDER is set in present day Chile and has flashbacks to those troubled times nearly fifty years ago. Gerardo (Marcelo Alonso and Pedro Fontaine as the young Gerardo) is an old man now and has recently returned from a long period of exile in Argentina. He is driving his car when he witnesses a mugging and decides to give chase to the teenage handbag snatcher. Things escalate terribly and Gerardo finds himself in hospital. Gerardo is famous (or notorious, depending on your point of view) and when his picture is shown on television it is recognised by Ines (Mercedes Moran and Maria Valverde as the young Ines). She is now a successful and influential business woman but she, her husband Justo (Felipe Armas and Gabriel Urzua as the young Justo) and Gerardo were once part of the right-wing extremist group which helped topple Allende. At the time Gerardo was freshly out of the Chilean air force and he was drawn to the wealthy and glamorous couple. All three joined in terrorist activities organised by the paramilitary group Patria y Libertad.

Ines and Justo have moved on with their lives but Gerardo hasn’t. He still harbors violent thoughts and hates the modern day Chile he has returned to. Justo is suffering from dementia but is looked after by his wife and their maid and his privileged lifestyle continues as it always has. Ines has learned to salve her conscience and attempts to redeem herself by doing good works which help the community. She defends her past during constant arguments about it with her son. When she engineers a meeting with Gerardo her romantic feelings for him are rekindled.

It is Gerado who suffers and, in turn, causes great suffering in this movie. Was he inherently violent or was he shaped by the organisation he joined? As he commits his final and despicable act, Ines is preparing a family Christmas dinner with thoughts of the past firmly brushed aside. Director Andres Wood provides a thoughtful insight into how the actions taken when we are young may still have a bearing on our lives many years later, especially if those actions were violent and were the result of an extreme ideology.