Siberia


On the prowl: Hugo and Goof (Metsers and Fernhout) relax between their search-and-destroy missions among Amsterdam's backpacking community.
dir Robert Jan Westdijk
scr Robert Van Westdijk, Jos Driessen
with Hugo Metsers, Roeland Fernhout, Vlatka Simac, Nicole Eggert, Johnny Lion, Alessia Sorvillo, Francesca Rizzo, Nefeli Anthopoulou, Syan Blake, Katja Dreyer, Jessica Stockmann, Bente Jonker
98/Netherlands 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
From the same highly stylish Euro-film tradition as Run Lola Run (edgy visuals, gritty music), Siberia is a strong, effective Dutch film that defies genres, blending elements of comedy, romance, drama and thriller in its morality tale about two young men trying to avoid doing the right thing.

Hugo and Goof (Metsers and Fernhout) are young 20-somethings who have no moral problem with their job: They seek out and seduce backpacking women, then steal their money and the photo pages from their passports. Hugo is a smooth-talking womaniser, but Goof wears his heart on his sleeve, and actually falls in love with each of his conquests. Eventually this causes problems when Goof invites Lara (Simac) home, then decides he wants to use the stolen money to travel home with her to Siberia. But Lara isn't who they think she is. Both of them are in for a few surprises ... and their friendship is going to be strained to the breaking point.

Sheer style and energy make the film work, with its kinetic editing and enthusiastic, physical performances. As the comedy starts to take a dark turn, things get pretty awful, bringing out serious themes that give the audience something to chew on. But it never gets terribly deep; there's no examination of why Hugo and Goof have turned to this freewheeling life of crime. Don't they have any other friends? The entire thing does feel just a bit contrived and manipulative. And some of the flourishes (both visually and in the storyline) don't quite work. But it's all so cool you don't mind. Director-cowriter Westdijk is definitely a talent to watch.

[18--strong adult themes and situations, language] 9.Mar.00
UK release 18.Aug.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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