LFF 2020: ‘Siberia’ – Film Review – THN

A review of Abel Ferrara’s latest drama, exploring the language of dreams.

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Abel Ferrara reteams with Willem Dafoe for a dreamlike drama that sees one man going on a spiritual quest to find himself. 

With the films of Abel Ferrara, you’re always going to get something quite singular, strange and often provocative. For his latest, he seeks to explore a language of dreams through the story of a lonely barman in Siberia, looking to reflect on his existence. What follows is a series of bizarre sequences, as Willem Dafoe’s Clint connects with the memories of those that he has known throughout his life, in order to examine just what kind of man he has been. Well, that’s how I read it anyway. Siberia is a film where it becomes very clear, very quickly, that this is an abstract experience where it is very hard to tell what’s going at any moment what so ever. 

It’s a strange feeling when you are watching a film that proves to be pretty impenetrable to you as a viewer at every turn, as it goes about delivering imagery and dialogue that deliberately obscures time and space. You question what you’re doing and whether you should keep going, as you slowly lose hope that it’s going to become any easier to get through. Undoubtedly, this is very much a question of individual taste. I do not doubt that there will be many fans of Ferrara’s work here, as he crafts an experience that defies a lot of reasoning and explanation. But for this writer, it proved to be something of an ordeal, one that felt as though it was operating at a distance at all times, crafting an alienating atmosphere that feels far too self indulgent to embrace. 

Full review at THN, originally published October 12th 2020.

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