Siberia Robert Jan Westdijk
Published Mar 01, 2001"Siberia" is a Dutch film with a plot that is equal parts "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "In The Company of Men," set in the realm of "Before Sunrise" (how's that for a combination?). Hugo (Hugo Metsters) and Goof (Roeland Fernhout) are best friends living together in Amsterdam who get their jollies and their money by seducing female backpackers and then taking their cash, cameras, and the identity page of their passports as souvenirs. The callous leader Hugo is getting increasingly ruthless about the work, while the gentler Goof starts to doubt the morality of their enterprise. Their conflict intensifies when Goof falls for Siberian traveller Lara (Vlatka Simac) and, against Hugo's rules and wishes, moves her into their home. With Lara coming between them and playing them against each other, Hugo and Goof decide to enter into a seduction competition that would have the winner taking all of the stolen money they had saved over time.
The film seeks in vain to humanise these characters, but they remain empty, with random, unfounded motivations, due to poor character development that does little more than sketch them out as caricatures mouthing platitudes about the existence of love. It is very difficult to like or even empathise with any of the people in the film, although Fernhout's Goof elicits the most sympathy by coming across as sweet and somewhat innocent, if only by comparison to the reprehensible Hugo.
Ultimately, the film treats the characters far too kindly, coming across as quite distasteful given the nastiness that they have caused throughout. Although the film's direction is seemingly quick-paced, with epileptic edits and fast motion sequences set to a soundscape of driving club beats, the story itself feels like it drags on far too long, no doubt because this character driven piece is devoid of just that substantial character. The style then is just intrusive, and as empty as the lives it depicts.