Taglines: The time of day when mystery and passion become one.
Claire (an American) wakes up in a terrible state at the end of a runway in Spain. As she tries to account for her state (blood-soaked and bruised), she has flashbacks from the past few days. She thinks she’s killed someone, but isn’t sure, and now she’s wandering the Spanish streets without money or a clear memory.
Siesta is a 1987 film directed by Mary Lambert, and starring Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne and Jodie Foster. It also stars Julian Sands, Isabella Rossellini, Martin Sheen, Alexei Sayle, Grace Jones, Anastassia Stakis, and Santiago Álvarez Sayle.
The screenplay was written by Patricia Louisiana Knop, based on a novel by Patrice Chaplin. The film was shot on location in Spain, released by Lorimar Motion Pictures, and debuted in New York City on November 11, 1987. The film’s themes are sex and death. Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis performed on the score for the film, Music from Siesta, which was written and arranged by frequent Davis collaborator Marcus Miller.
Film Review for Siesta
‘SIESTA” is the kind of excitingly bad, artily experimental film that has become an endangered species, and as such it can be greeted with more warmth than would otherwise be warranted. Bad? Arty? Here is how ”Siesta” begins: with the image of Claire (Ellen Barkin) in a skimpy red dress lying motionless in a field of dead grass. The dead grass proves to be next to an airport runway because a plane passes almost directly above her. With this, Claire breathes a deep, heaving breath and springs to life.
She yanks up the red dress to examine her bruised, mud-caked body (and allow the camera one of many opportunities to do likewise). Then she runs away, pulls off the dress entirely, and washes away its mysterious bloodstains in a muddy river. She lies down to sunbathe. Vultures circle overhead.
Claire finds a taxi with tiger-skin upholstery and a lipstick in the back seat. We learn she is in Spain. There is a lecherous male driver with metallic teeth. We learn that Claire thinks she may have killed somebody on the Fourth of July. And with that, the film begins to weave back and forth in time, encompassing several days before the crime and the period immediately after it.
It examines Claire’s resumed romance with an old flame (played by Gabriel Byrne), her career as a daredevil skydiver and the final stunt that sends her fleeing her husband and manager, Del (played jauntily by Martin Sheen, whose telephone answering machine has a recording that says he and Claire ”aren’t here right now – and if you don’t know where we are, we should fire our publicist!”).
”Siesta,” which opens today at the Embassy 72d Street theater, was directed by Mary Lambert, who was previously best known for directing television commercials and Madonna videos; she will still be best known for these things after ”Siesta” is gone. Still, Miss Lambert’s first feature has a game, mischievous spirit and a ripe bohemianism that are appealing. This film, which addresses itself passionately to thoughts about sex and death, turns out to be both obvious and muddy simultaneously (no mean accomplishment), but it also has enough colorful exoticism to do any perfume commercial proud. In its glossy, solemn and numbingly pretentious way, it’s got high style.
Actors fare surprisingly well under such circumstances, almost as well as the stark Spanish scenery. Miss Barkin looks exquisitely ravaged and proves over and over again that she is in excellent physical condition. (She actually tightrope-walks in one scene, since her lover is a tightrope trainer.)
Julian Sands and Jodie Foster are a charming surprise as two jaded British travelers who briefly join forces with Claire; Miss Foster does devilishly well with the mannerisms and speech of a petulant post-deb, while Mr. Sands makes a marvelously raffish playboy-artiste (”Ah, dog that I am!” he sighs delightedly at a compliment from a female companion). Isabella Rossellini has less to do and Grace Jones has nothing to do in lesser roles, but they contribute to the film’s nonchalant glamour. So does Miles Davis, who performs the haunting score.
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Starring: Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Isabella Rossellini, Martin Sheen, Alexei Sayle, Grace Jones, Jodie Foster, Anastassia Stakis, Santiago Álvarez
Screenplay by: Patricia Louisianna Knop
Production Design by: John Beard
Cinematography by: Bryan Loftus
Film Editing by: Glenn Morgan
Costume Design by: Marlene Stewart
Art Direction by: José María Tapiador
Music by: Marcus Miller
Distributed by: Lorimar Motion Pictures
Release Date: November 11, 1987