Willem Dafoe has a storied history of making what you would classify as ‘unconventional’ movies. His filmography, which includes mainstream selections like Spider-Man, is also host to the stunning-but-strange The Lighthouse (a personal favorite) and the violent, brazenly bizarre Antichrist. Siberia, the new highly symbolic dream-exploration drama, is—bar none—the most frustrating and baffling film I have seen from Dafoe.
A puzzling voiceover during the opening credits, set to a completely black screen, gives us the briefest glimpse into something resembling a plot. Clint (Dafoe) lives alone in a frozen tundra, amongst small cabins, mountains of dried bones, teepees, and fluffy huskies. We follow him on a vision quest as he strives to regain his soul and explore the innermost workings of his dreams, regrets, and desires.
Similar to Antichrist, there are explicit sex scenes and nudity. I had a very difficult time comprehending anything this movie was trying to say. Foreigners rattle off tons of dialogue that is left completely free of subtitles. A random scene of a thrashing bear, otherworldly mumbling noises, and naked women shouting “I’m waiting for the doctor.” Even when Clint sees his dad, he is just rambling about potato chips and cookies.
Siberia is a film set in a snowy landscape that makes less sense than the wildest dream you can remember. I understand the director’s intent in wanting to quite literally film your dreams, but the way Siberia is structured makes it virtually impossible to connect to Clint’s character on any level. I am not the type who needs everything spoon-fed, but would at least like to have a base level of understanding when I am watching. Siberia is monotonous, pretentious, and borderline nonsensical. Willem Dafoe deserves a better avenue for his talent, as his performance is the one and only thing I actually enjoyed from this frosted, empty head-scratcher.
Siberia plays in select theaters June 18th, followed by a DVD/Blu-Ray release on June 22nd.