Review: ‘Siesta’

First feature film by Mary Lambert, best known for her Madonna videos, is a densely packed portrait of a beautiful, disturbed woman at the end of her rope. Told in a fragmented, time-jumping style, this subjective, hallucinatory recollection of a five-day descent into hell sustains intense interest throughout, to a great extent because of Ellen Barkin's extravagantly fine performance in the leading role.

First feature film by Mary Lambert, best known for her Madonna videos, is a densely packed portrait of a beautiful, disturbed woman at the end of her rope. Told in a fragmented, time-jumping style, this subjective, hallucinatory recollection of a five-day descent into hell sustains intense interest throughout, to a great extent because of Ellen Barkin’s extravagantly fine performance in the leading role.

In its elaborate, jigsaw-puzzle way, film [from the novel by Patrice Chaplin] tells of how Barkin, a daredevil skydiver, impulsively leaves her home and husband in Death Valley for a quick trip to Spain to find the man she still loves, trapeze artist Gabriel Byrne, who also has married someone else, Isabella Rossellini.

Although due back in Califoria imminently for a big commercial payday, Barkin lets her desire for Byrne prolong her Spanish sojourn past the deadline. She falls in with a dissolute, aimless English crowd led by Julian Sands and Jodie Foster and finally becomes utterly lost and delirious, helpless at the hands of filthy-minded taxi driver Alexei Sayle.

Byrne puts on a continuous smoldering act as the sought-after lover, Martin Sheen is all congenial American hype as Barkin’s abandoned husband, and Jodie Foster, as a snooty but friendly socialite, has fun with a British accent.

Siesta

US - UK

Production

Lorimar/Siren/Palace. Director Mary Lambert; Producer Gary Kurfirst, Chris Brown; Screenplay Patricia Louisianna Knop; Camera Bryan Loftus; Editor Glenn A. Morgan; Music Marcus Miller; Art Director John Beard

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1987. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Ellen Barkin Gabriel Byrne Julian Sands Isabella Rossellini Martin Sheen Jodie Foster

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