LFF 2020 ‘Siberia’ Review: Abel Ferrerra and Willem Dafoe Undertake a Strange Journey into the Wild

In the Siberian wilderness there is a mountainside bar, catering to unusual individuals. Clint (Willem Dafoe) is the sole employee, and after a few strange encounters he undertakes a bizarre and introspective journey into the wilderness in which he revisits memories and experiences visions. Clint tries to make some sense of his experiences and find an answer to his big questions.

Abel Ferrerra’s latest film in a long career of oddities and experiments is certainly unusual. Moving from intense interactions between Clint and the bizarre inhabitants of the bar to quietly beautiful sequences of Clint riding across the tundra on his husky sledge. It’s a deeply unpredictable journey which is at turns horrifying and fairly amusing.

Functionally though, the film is a little dull. Peppered with moments of creative psychedelica and memorable moments, it’s hard to get invested in Clint. Dafoe is always a very committed performer but his character here is very subdued and hard to access. Even as he explores the darkest parts of his journey, we never get the same energy or depth as other abstract roles he has undertaken.

Siberia is a film that’s more fun in concept than execution, and doesn’t quite involve the viewer enough to make them interesting in teasing out the mysteries in it’s narrative. It’s undeniably beautiful and another interesting film from one of the most unique directors working today, but this couldn’t be considered amongst his stronger elements.

Three Stars

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