In the Forests of Siberia
- 1h 45min
Before the vastness of the Siberian Taiga, at the shores of the frozen Lake Baikal, a Parisian executive fleeing from the city, will find everything he has ever dreamed of: to profoundly exp... Read allBefore the vastness of the Siberian Taiga, at the shores of the frozen Lake Baikal, a Parisian executive fleeing from the city, will find everything he has ever dreamed of: to profoundly experience the silence, the solitude and the space.Before the vastness of the Siberian Taiga, at the shores of the frozen Lake Baikal, a Parisian executive fleeing from the city, will find everything he has ever dreamed of: to profoundly experience the silence, the solitude and the space.
An unexpected chain of events then started to unfold, which would eventually lead to the present film adaptation : somewhere in India (light years away from Siberia as it were!), where he found himself, Safy Nebbou, a film director living in France but born in the South of Algeria (a hot place, if there is one !) read the book, fell in love with it and decided that he WOULD transpose it to the screen, come hell or high water. And by dint of determination and obstinacy, Nebbou ended up managing to make this "insane" project come to life.
Naturally persistence is one thing but making an entertaining show of a man alone living secluded in a cabin... is another. The point was: how to avoid boredom with so little narrative challenge? Safy Nebbou thought the problem over and found a way out: the addition of a new character, whose main virtue would be allowing Teddy (Sylvain Tesson's screen substitute) not only to talk to himself but to have dialogues, not only to be self-absorbed but to develop a relationship, thus adding narrative impetus to a story working well on paper but less so on film. A choice disapproved by a couple of demanding critics but not by moviegoers who, through word of mouth, made the film a success. Even Sylvain Tesson himself thought it a right move.
That being so, "Dans les forêts de Sibérie", gives you the impression – and a pleasant one at that – to see two different films on the run. The first part mainly partakes of the documentary : the views of the frozen lake and of its surroundings, intensified by Gilles Porte's gorgeous cinematography, are outstanding. Also documentary-like is the way Nebbou shows us Teddy trying and managing to go through the days of his new life : how he deals with solitude, with finding food (how this man of the town learns hunting in the taiga and fishing through an opening in the ice, toileting in a sauna and going out naked in the cold (which gives rise the best scene of the movie, both comic and scary, showing a bear threaten the poor defenseless Teddy), and so on... The second part, with the introduction of Aleksei, is much less meditative and a little more action-based. It also noticeable for its psychological rightness. The friendship that develops between the two outsiders is believable and their relationships more and more moving as the story progresses. Add to that a score by Ibrahim Maalouf, interpreted by him on his inimitable trumpet, at times lyrical when the character is elated, at others beautifully melancholic, and you will have an more complete idea of the atmosphere the film is wrapped in.
On the whole, this is quite a worthwhile and, even if it does not carry you away like "Dersu Uzala" or "Into the Wild", "Dans les forêts de Sibérie" proves thought-provoking, has a real sense of nature and is boosted by the inspired performance of its main actor, Raphaël Personnaz, incredibly thoroughly in character. Recommended for all those reasons.
- Aug 20, 2016