I’ve been a fan of Abel Ferrara since I saw Ms .45 back in the early 80s. Films like King of New York, Bad Lieutenant and New Rose Hotel stand out in my cinematic memories. I still consider Body Snatchers the best version of that oft-told tale. And now we have Siberia, written by Abel Ferrara and Christ Zois who worked with Ferrara on New Rose Hotel and The Blackout among other films
Clint (Willem Dafoe, My Hindu Friend, The Lighthouse) runs a bar in the Siberian wilderness. Of that much I’m sure. The rest of the film seems to be a collection of fantasies he has. Starting with one where two women arrive by dog sled. The younger of the two is naked under her fur coat. She’s also massively pregnant. Which doesn’t stop Clint from doing her when she offers herself to him. Women throwing themselves at Clint will be an ongoing theme in Siberia.
But at least that makes some kind of sense. This is a film with a dog sled trip across a desert and a talking fish. There’s also nearly no narrative structure or logic here as it bounces from one incident to the next. From people being executed at a death camp to meetings with family members to more scenes of young, naked women finding Clint irresistible.
It’s all very confusing, by design it would appear, and very self-indulgent. We get a lot of beautiful wilderness footage mixed in with bizarre interactions with people he meets. It’s all supposed to mean something but with no context there’s no way to tell what. The film may be about a journey of self-discovery, but all I got was a headache.
Siberia was apparently inspired by the works of Jung, but honestly, it’s more like dung. The cinematography by Stefano Falivene is proof you can polish a turd. But it’s still a turd, just a shiny one.
Siberia most recently played the Montréal Festival of New Cinema. You can check the film’s website for other screening dates.