Opening 19 Mar 2020
Writing credits: Abel Ferrara, Christ Zois
Principal actors: Willem Dafoe, Dounia Sichov, Simon McBurney, Cristina Chiriac, Daniel Giménez Cacho
Imagine an hour and a half of Willem Dafoe walking around in increasing bizarre arctic setting. Then add a tedious, pretentious, and self-indulgent script. Perhaps then it isn’t surprising that the resulting film lacks both emotional and philosophical depth. With a winding, dreamlike structure, the characters and settings appear and disappear on a whim without whys or wherefores. Dafoe’s character Clint is on a journey of self-discovery, but it isn’t clear whether this takes place all in his deranged mind or if he is perhaps a spirit wandering through purgatory. Regardless, the film is hellish enough to make one wonder if writer/director Abel Ferrara was trying to punish the audience or if the script is indicative of the way he examines his own life which is possibly even more troubling.
Siberia isn’t a film meant to make much narrative sense; it is an array of feelings, images, and philosophical meanderings. Where things really go off the rails is in how obvious it is that the film is the work of men who have very little understanding of the world outside of their own narrow existence. Women are mere objects throughout, popping in and out of the story to provide Clint with sexual encounters, their bodies changing haphazardly to different races and ages, from white to black to maiden to mother to crone. Female bodies are always naked and sexualized, except in the case of Clint’s ex-wife, who is diminished to being only a stereotype. All the while, Clint argues with versions of himself about nonsensical or just downright boring philosophical topics which fall leaden upon the ears of anyone who can’t stand hoity-toity ruminations of pampered elites.
While there is certainly an audience somewhere out there who will enjoy this obscenely boring and senseless take on outdated Jungian dream analysis, for the majority, there is little to recommend in this plodding, pretentious mess. (Rose Finlay)