Mary Lambert has always seemed a director perpetually capable of more promise than she has ever ended up delivering. Siesta is a stylish film but it is also incoherent and pretentious. The narrative, such as it is, travels through several pretty locations and includes some interesting cameos. Lambert has an elegant, pictorial eye, particularly during the sensual love scenes, which are at one point strikingly intercut with a rape. But she cannot for the life of her keep her wildly overacting cast under control the worst offenders being Julian Sands and Alexei Sayle or animate the half-cocked black humour that lurks beneath much of the film, especially the scenes where Alexei Sayle forces his way with Ellen Barkin while another man dies in the background.
Ellen Barkin is the one joy of the film her warm, sly crinkle of eyes and lopsided smile are immensely inviting. Unfortunately, Siesta wastes her, running about in a dishevelled state and reduced to endless whimpering. The other joy is Jodie Foster, sporting a surprising well-affected British accent and showing considerable assurance at playing a member of the bored leisure class.
The ending [PLOT SPOILERS] offers a variant on the by now clichéd deathdream ending first used in the famous short film An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962) and in other films like Carnival of Souls (1962), Seizure/Queen of Evil (1974), The Survivor (1981), Sole Survivor (1983), Jacobs Ladder (1990), Final Approach (1991), A Pure Formality (1994), Soul Survivors (2001), The Brown Bunny (2003), Dead End (2003), I Pass for Human (2004), Hidden (2005), Stay (2005), Passengers (2008), The Haunting of Winchester House (2009), Someones Knocking at the Door (2009), Wound (2010), A Fish (2012), Leones (2012) and 7500 (2014) and, of course, The Sixth Sense (1999). Although when it arrives here, it feels more like a fumbled episode of The Twilight Zone (1959-64) having been spun out to feature length.
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