London Film Festival: Siberia (2020)

Director: Abel Ferrara

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Dounia Sichov, Simon McBurney, Cristina Chiriac, Anna Ferrara

He may be almost 70, with a directorial career nearing 30 feature films, but Abel Ferrara shows no signs of slowing down. His latest film is a study of Curtis (Willem Dafoe), a man who suffers from hallucinations, trying to escape this issues which have plagued his life. This has led to him living in isolation, tending a bar in Siberia to patrons who don't speak English. He takes a dog-sled journey to a nearby cave, in order to confront his dreams and memories.

Through some experimental and surreal means, Ferrara centres on the story of one man, who's lived a life full of regrets. He's distanced himself from everybody else, in search for his soul. This leads to an introspective look at Clint's past life and relationships, as dreams and reality intersect, while regrets make themselves known in vivid dreams. Chief amongst them is father issues, the character also being portrayed by Dafoe, only with shaving foam on his chin.

You can't predict how others will react to experimental cinema, and that's especially true of this. I can only speak for myself, and say that this did not work for me. The way Ferrara emphasised Clint's struggles felt incoherent and bonkers, but I can never say I was bored. From a multitude of sex scenes, to executions of naked men, and even a cuddle with a corpse, I was constantly surprised by where things went, and wondering what would come next. Regardless of my issues with what was occurring on-screen, Stefano Falivene's cinematography ensured it looked great throughout. It's worth mentioning Willem Dafoe, who dives headfirst into the material, and puts his all into whatever is required of him, especially during a notable dancing scene. It adds up to an experience I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but one I don't regret taking.