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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Siberia (1998)

"You cannot love me. You don't know me."
- Lara (Vlatka Simac)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: January 27, 2005

Stars: Roeland Fernhout, Hugo Metsers III
Other Stars: Vlatka Simac, Nicole Eggert, Jessica Stockmann, Francesca Rizzo
Director: Robert Jan Westdijk

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (strong sexuality, a scene of sexual violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:26m:46s
Release Date: January 18, 2005
UPC: 037429203729
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-BB D+

DVD Review

Hugo (Hugo Metsers III) and Goof (Roeland Fernhout) have a simple plan: meet young female tourists among the streets of Amsterdam, sleep with them and then, in the early hours of the morning, steal their passport photos and money. They keep a tally of their conquests in a cupboard lined with passport pages—little trophies of promiscuity in a world gone mad. It is an immoral, shameless game both enjoy with a youthful abandon. They either ignore the consequences of their careless actions, or simply do not care. Complete nihilism has not yet succeeded, though; the pair still have an undying loyalty to their friendship, but they refuse to fall in love with their marks. After all, lust is the only thing they find real.

But these two troublemakers are not cut from the same cloth. Hugo is the outright ladies man, unshaven, walking around with his shirt open and sporting some boss, oversized late '90s European sunglasses (I can't imagine why these ever went out of style...I think senior citizens wear them now). Goof is the "innocent" one; he's less popular with the girls, but that makes him more sensible by default. Goof's boyish charm lures them in, and Hugo's masculinity closes the deal—its a deadly combination that leaves broken hearts and empty pocketbooks in their wake.

Of course, a wrench must be thrown in the works. When the dynamic duo stumbles upon Lara (Vlatka Simac), Goof is infatuated. He takes the young Russian back to his flat, not to have his way with her, but to talk. Yes, talk. What a concept! Hugo believes it's a waste of time, and slowly sees his friend being ripped away from him by a woman whose motives are not entirely clear. Goof becomes fixated on taking the young girl back to her home in Siberia, but Hugo is suspicious of the attractive Russian. Is he dealing with a black widow, or a loyal, decent girl? Animosity turns to guilt, and shifts into a desire to save his friend from pain. Before the con's victor is revealed, a game of dueling libidos must ensue, leading to the icy plains of Siberia.

On the surface, I was expecting an immoral sexfest, exploiting the more promiscuous side of modern-day Europe. Instead, Siberia is a surprisingly fresh look at a unorthodox friendship that violates decency in action, but maintains a heart of gold. Even though Goof is just as guilty as Hugo, he maintains a sense of innocence that is revealed through Lara; he is a boy looking for love, but gets caught in the mechanics of sex and crime. Hugo is a loveless brute who sees lust as the highest form of connection between the sexes, but somehow cherishes friendship. Siberia has its moments of questionable content that hurt its substance grade, most notably a scene of sexual violence I found rather distasteful, but its thematic content does not completely shy away from the consequences of crime.

Director Robert Jan Westdijk has infused an MTV-style energy into this explosive, comedic ride. Various film stocks are intercut with time lapse and hand held photography that can be both effective and distracting. With sharp editing and a throbbing techno score by Junkie XL, Siberia certainly evokes the energy of European clubs and hostels, and the hormones therein. Excess and exaggeration is the norm here, with the frequent sexual conquests seeming all too easy. Nevertheless, real friendship shines through the psychotic haze and the trippy style. This is the heart of the film, and some fine performances from Roeland Fernhout and Hugo Metsers III create a palpable connection.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Home Vision's anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is quite good, but understandably varies in quality due to the variety of shooting formats. Hazy 8mm bits appear hear and there, showcasing an ethereal glow that looks quite beautiful. Grain is evident, and the image is rather soft, but this remains a fine, film-like image.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Dutchno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dutch stereo track throbs with techno, and features clear dialogue (much of which is in English).

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert with liner notes by critic and broadcaster Rich Cline
Extras Review: The only extras are the film's theatrical trailer, and an insert with liner notes by Rich Cline, who provides some helpful context with a discussion of the European film environment at the time of Siberia's release.

The cover art and menu design is quite stylish, and the keepcase color is an appropriate snow white. Nice touch.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Siberia is a trippy, energetic look at the sexual conquests of two friends, and the mark that throws their world into chaos. Despite some questionable content, true friendship shines through this surprisingly fresh film. HVe's presentation is solid, meriting a rental at the very least.

 


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