Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 15, 2021)
In 2018, Keanu Reeves starred in a movie called Siberia. In 2019, Willem Dafoe starred in a movie called Siberia.
Well, that’s confusing.
For this review, we’ll look at the 2019 flick. Clint (Dafoe) works as a bartender in a remote frozen location. The locals speak Yupik and he doesn’t, so this complicates his job.
In truth, this situation doesn’t exist literally, as instead, it represents Clint’s status in limbo. He needs to work through issues from his past as he pursues a happier ending for himself.
Director Abel Ferrara first gained some notoriety via 1979’s cult flick Driller Killer, though he wouldn’t achieve mainstream prominence until about a decade later. With movies like 1990’s King of New York and 1992’s Bad Lieutenant, Ferrara achieved more of an “arthouse” following.
I admit I didn’t enjoy the prior Ferrara films I saw, a small roster that also included 1993’s dull Body Snatchers, a flick that seemed like Ferrara’s best shot at a hit. I didn’t hold my prior experiences with Ferrara against Siberia, though, because I didn’t realize he made the film until I watched it.
What I will hold against Siberia is its basic awfulness. Pretentious and absurd, the movie goes nowhere.
Basically, Siberia seems overwritten and underdeveloped. People speak in ridiculous soliloquies and lead us down a long, slow road to nowhere.
Siberia gives us painful dialogue like this:
“But dad, don’t you remember what the doctor said?”
“What did he say?”
“He said you’re dead.”
Siberia burdens us with endless nonsense like that. The film clearly views itself as deep and insightful, but instead, it just seems silly and rambling.
Basically half Malick, half Lynch, Siberia ends up all bad. Even at a mere 91 minutes, the movie turns into a long, dull trek.