Abel Ferrara’s latest film blends a quintessential man vs. nature struggle and the age-old search for life’s meaning with a heavy dose of metaphysics. Siberia, however, does nothing narratively or thematically with its ideas or aesthetics. Its uneven, unpleasant pacing is the immediate first strike against it. The only impact of its jump scares and abrupt tonal changes are to shock the audience; once the heartbeat steadies, it becomes painfully apparent that nothing meaningful has occurred.

The second major flaw comes from its intensely privileged gaze. All bodies aside from Clint’s exist to be leered at. Conventionally beautiful women are unsurprisingly objectified to an extreme, but the film also makes a spectacle of branding less lithe bodies as grotesque. The significance of having Clint sleep with a series of gorgeous younger women is entirely lost, as each encounter becomes more pornographic than the last without any justification. Additionally, Clint’s journey around his subconscious and memories is seeped in Orientalist ideas of ‘black magic’ and the aforementioned ableism; the lack of introspection around either leaves a bad taste.

Its third and greatest failing is its script. Granted, it is wonderfully, unintentionally funny at parts, but its stylings and faux aphorisms create boredom and bemusement more often than the mystery it seems to be aiming at. Willem Dafoe’s fully committed performance is the film’s only redeeming feature; regardless of the insane scenario Clint is thrust into, his reactions feel as authentic as they possibly could given the script. There may be a good version of Clint’s journey, but it requires a new film.

Hampered by a laughably bad script and lack of self-awareness, Siberia has little to redeem it and less to recommend it. Any ideas it might have on connection, love, loss, and the meaning of life are lost in self-indulgence.



CAST: Willem Dafoe, Dounia Sichov, Simon McBurney, Cristina Chiriac, Daniel Giménez Cacho

DIRECTOR: Abel Ferrara

WRITERS: Abel Ferrara, Christ Zois

SYNOPSIS: This time- and reality-bending adventure follows a dead man’s reckoning with his past.