Evaluation: Lili Taylor struggles with mental illness in ‘Paper Spiders’


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College applications, high school parties, first love, graduating. In “Paper Spiders, ” directed and co-written simply by Inon Shampanier, the specter of mental illness harnesses large over these typical milestones of the high school coming-of-age film. A prom night pickup is bathed in the red plus blue lights of a law enforcement cruiser; a graduation ceremony is interrupted by weird delusions. Even the handsome chunk struggles with alcoholism.

Lili Taylor swift stars seeing that Dawn, the caring mother of the bright Melanie ( Stefania LaVie Owen ). Mother and daughter are two halves of a whole, sharing foods, crossword puzzles, even day nights. They are especially near since the sudden death associated with Melanie’s father a few years earlier, and with college looming in the future, Dawn is anxious regarding losing her, regretting that she encouraged Melanie to obtain straight As, while Melanie has her sights set on a scholarship at the girl father’s alma mater, USC.

Dawn is a bit quirky and obsessive, a charmingly neurotic and overprotective mother. But soon her fixations reveal themselves to be the manifestations of delusional disorder. She believes their neighbors is stalking and harassing her, and nothing can shake her attachment to this reality.


The situation will be far too much for one teen to handle, despite Melanie’s best efforts. The script reflects her plight with a terrible honesty, emphasizing her weakness, despite being a smart plus resourceful kid. She might have the fortitude but lacks the resources to address the particular gravity of the situation. Like most teenagers, Melanie’s concerned with mitigating embarrassment, but her self-preservation instincts are intact, and they have to be, in order to survive.

Taylor plays Dawn’s slide into this psychological health crisis beautifully, with conviction, and Owen is certainly stunning as the high-achieving, yet fragile Melanie, who looks for oblivion and solace in the risky boyfriend ( Ian Nelson ).

Shampanier authored the script with his wife, Natalie Shampanier, based on their history with her own mother’s struggle with delusional disorder. Along with the emotionally stripped performances associated with Taylor and Owen, that will personal experience brings an unusual honesty and authenticity to this film about mental sickness.

‘Paper Spiders’

Not scored

Running time: one hour 49 minutes

Playing: Starts May 7, Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood; Galaxy Mission Grove, Riverside; also on VOD