Abel Ferrara’s latest psychological thriller, Siberia, will have you on the edge of your seat begging for answers. Starring Willem Dafoe, the film follows Clint, a bartender at a snowbound roadhouse where things aren’t what they seem. He might be losing his mind, but he might not, a sentiment held in an equally entertaining and creepy dance number.
When the bar patrons speak a language Clint doesn’t understand, he drives a sled team to a nearby cave in search of answers. Instead of solutions, Clint is left with more questions. The spirits that confront him could be figments of his imagination, but they could be real. Check out the clip below, where a hooded man commands Clint (Willem Dafoe) to dance:
The clip starts with Willem Dafoe’s Clint having a conversation with a hooded man about knowing right from wrong. The hooded man tells Clint to be human and dance, and then Clint takes a few steps, music starts playing, and he dances. It’s unclear if Clint is being forced to dance or making the choice on his own. He’s certainly enjoying himself (and Dafoe’s got some moves!) but it feels pretty creepy like he doesn’t have full autonomy.
It’s an interesting conversation the two characters have. The hooded man asks Clint if he thinks being sincere and well-meaning makes him a saint, in a tone that seems to expect Clint to say yes. Instead, Clint responds that he is no saint, although he knows right from wrong, and the hooded man seems to switch from chastising Clint to consoling him, saying it’s okay that he’s not a saint, he’s human. This could be a mentor/mentee relationship of sorts, but it could also be pure manipulation and confusion.
There are multiple ways to interpret the cinematography in the clip above. It seems that the location where the two men speak and the location where Willem Dafoe’s Clint begins to dance are different places, which suggests the conversation itself is either a memory or taking place in the mind of Dafoe’s character. If it’s a memory, the scene could be as simple as Clint being down on himself again for some behavior he doesn’t approve of and reminding himself that it’s okay to be human and he should enjoy life and dance.
On the other hand, however, it’s possible that the conversation is not a memory. It could be a false memory of something that never happened, it could be a spirit that lives in Clint’s mind, or it could be happening in real-time with the dance scene. The latter could suggest that Clint does not have full control over his body and is being forced to dance as whoever is controlling him tests out their abilities.
Does the hooded man even exist? We know from Siberia's trailer that in Clint’s search for peace and explanations, the world around him only grows more chaotic. But he could just be going insane. He is confronted by various spirits throughout the film that may be no more than figments of his imagination.
We’ll get answers to all these questions and more when Siberia arrives in select theaters and everywhere you rent movies on June 18. Until then, I want to know what you think is going on in the clip above. Is he merely enjoying some solo dance time, or being controlled?