Monday, September 19, 2016

Siesta (1987) - Lynchesque Film Soleil

"Somewhere, and I don't know where, I turned a corner and there was no turning back. Somewhere I made a mistake."

The Film Soleil Noir Siesta awas Directed by Mary Lambert.
The Film stars Ellen Barkin (The Big Easy (1986), Sea of Love (1989)), Gabriel Byrne (Miller's Crossing (1990)), Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver (1976), The Silence of the Lambs (1991)), Martin Sheen (The Incident (1967)), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990)), Grace Jones, Julian Sands and Alexei Sayle. Written by Patricia Louisianna Knop (screenplay) and based on the novel by Patrice Chaplin. Cinematography was by Bryan Loftus and the score is by Miles Davis and Marcus Miller.

Siesta is a updated version of a woman's noir. The story is told exclusively from a woman's perspective and in a non linear fashion. It's art house, experimental, surreal, symbolic, dreamlike, erotic, low rent Lynchesque, if you will. The film has got in-your-face style.

The film begins with what looks like a discarded mannequin, clad in a red dress laying next to a garbage bag in a field of burnt grass.

It's a blonde woman.

Claire (Barkin)

A jetliner screams overhead and we realise that she is laying at the end of a runway.

A second jetliner screams down for a landing Claire, the woman, sucks in a deep breath awakening from a siesta.

Claire eyes herself, her dress is dirty, torn, rumpled, and darkly stained, the stains look like blood. They are blood. She panics and pulls up her dress to examine her body. She is nude beneath but unmarked.

Another jet screams down to land on the runway and Claire jumps up, screams, and begins to run.

She stops next to a drainage ditch with running water. The water is muddy but she strips off the dress and rinses out the blood.

She washes the dirt, blood, and mud from her body and then lays down to sun dry. Jet planes are replaced by circling vultures.

Dried off, Claire runs to a nearby road and flags down a taxi. While riding in the back seat Claire tries to remember what happened and with flashbacks, flashforwards, and jump cuts. we the audience, and Claire begin to piece the past five days together.

Claire (Barkin)

We discover that Claire for the last seven years has been a professional daredevil, her slogan is "Claire On A Dare". She is married to her promoter Del (Sheen) and they live in a converted airplane hanger.

Stunt woman Claire ona Dare

Del (Sheen)

They are planning a 4th of July stunt in Death Valley a skydive into a burning net. Claire however, after receiving a letter from her old lover Augustine (Byrne) who is living in Spain, gets a wild hair up her ass and decides to take off for Europe five days before the stunt.

the letter from Augustine (Byrne)

Claire looking over the bruises on her body and remembering the blood on her dress begins to believe that something terrible may have happened. She thinks she may have killed somebody, but has no idea who. She continues to flashback.

Arriving in Spain, we see various episodes in Claire's life that occurred during the last five days, or did they, are we seeing actual events, wishful daydreams, various episodes of parallel time, or acid trip hallucinations. The characters she encounters are odd, twisted, slightly off.

The quirky taxi driver with metal teeth. The shaggy maned Julian Sands as Kit, a jaded artist and his sugar momma Nancy (Jodie Foster) who is affecting a British accent. Byrne playing a Spaniard is also interesting and convincing. I'm reminded a bit of Charleton Heston and Marlene Dietrich playing a Mexicans in Touch Of Evil.

Claire tracks down Augustine but discovers that he has recently married Marie (Rossellini). Claire is unperturbed and boldly approches Augustine who initially pushes her off but finally relents. The result is catastrophic.


Kitt (Sands)

Augostine (Byrne) and Marie (Rosselini)

Nancy (Foster)

This is a gutsy performance by Barkin, who is both mesmerising and compelling as the obsessed amnesiac searching for the events of her life during the past five days. The film is odd, whacky, atmospheric, and mind tripping. It's full of religious symbolisim and ancient mythology. It definitely needs to be watched more than once to fully appreciate it. Each character Claire encounters are more than they seem.

The end has a twist but most of us will sort of guess it in advance, I know that I did. Miles Davis performs the haunting score. Sex And Death - Siesta. Worth a watch especially for Barkin fans, a 6-7/10.

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