Siberia (2020)

SIBERIA 2020 film still

SIBERIA (2020)

SIBERIA 2020 poster

Screening as part of the 2020 Perth Revelation Film Festival’s COUCHED online line-up from July 9th-19th. To purchase tickets, see schedules and additional information visit the official page HERE 

RevCouched Revelation Film Festival 2020

Siberia (2020)

A review by Adam Lovett

Writer/Director: Abel Ferrara
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Dounia Sichov, Simon McBurney, Laurent Arnatsiaq

“I want to see if we can really film dreams—our fears, our regrets, our nostalgia.”Abel Ferrara for Sundance 

Our dreams seldom if ever make complete sense in the waking hours. More often than not they are utterly bewildering. That doesn’t mean we don’t find reward in the search for their meaning or recalling certain searing images from within them. So it is with SIBERIA, the sixth collaboration between anomalous Director Abel Ferrara and actor Willem DaFoe.

A crowd funded film that is so ambitiously incoherent at times with an internal “dream logic” so free of signposting that it makes the works of David Lynch appear pandering by comparison. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its merits worthy of analysis, just that for the small audience that it will connect with there is a much larger one that it will frustrate. Something true of most all Ferrara’s filmography. Afterall this is not a filmmaker who puts the audience first and with this he is clearly grappling with some profound, possibly personal demons.

As the film opens Clint (DaFoe) reflects through narration on the allure of isolation, of his time in the snow bound wilderness as a child. So it is that now Clint has fled civilization, abandoned his past human connections to run a mountain bar in the middle of big white nowhere. A location only visited by reclusive locals also leading an existence of solitude.

The reasons why Clint has chosen to sequester are slowly, painfully revealed as the alienating film unfolds. What begins as a potential character study is jarringly rendered existential by a sudden savage bear attack that comes from nowhere and just as abruptly is ignored. This is the moment that clues us in to not take what we see literally, and that reality is merely a state of consciousness to neither hold onto nor use to define what we experience.

As Clint searches for serenity, meditating on philosophical questions of identity, family, love, death and ultimately the meaning of existence we are challenged with every searing image. The journey of self-discovery and introspection juxtaposed through striking locales of fire and ice, deserts and lush green fields perhaps even heaven and hell. This purgatory ponderance is a nightmarish surrealism savaged with graphic sex and violence.

Ferrara is more interested in the questions than the answers and the viewers fascination for where the film goes may well depend on their own perspective. The film is undeniably shot with artistry, the cinematography rendering some truly unforgettable frames. Dafoe’s face is endlessly compelling even when the nomadic spirit quest strays. One thing is for certain the Director and actor share an eccentric kinship and together they are pushing the limits of their own creative expression. Something that can only be admired by someone like me even if I found the end result bewildering.

Watch the trailer for Siberia (2020)

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