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.
This plot-twisting and odd film with the title Siesta (“the time of day when mystery and eroticism become one”) – was the first time directorial effort of Mary Lambert. It was nominated for two Razzie Awards in the Worst Supporting Actress category: (Grace Jones and Isabella Rossellini).
The mystery-drama opened with the intriguing scene of an unidentified female (Ellen Barkin) awakening at the edge of an airport runway near Madrid – on the Fourth of July.
She was clothed in a bright red dress (without underwear) and she noticed that her body was covered in someone else’s blood. She screamed, ran down a roadway (avoiding an oncoming truck) to a nearby stream. She mumbled to herself that she might be involved in a murder: “It’s not my blood, must be somebody else’s. I must have really hurt him. I must have hurt him pretty bad.”
There, she stripped off the dress, rinsed out the blood, and then dried herself by the sun’s rays on the muddy bank of the water before reclothing herself. Afterwards, she hailed a taxi, and in voice-over exclaimed: “I’m in Spain! Aw, jeez. What the f–k am I doing here?” Her passport, money and everything else were in her bag – which she didn’t have: “My god, what’s happening to me?…I remember coming here, and I don’t remember anything else.” The remainder of the film reminded the viewer of the film Memento (2000). In Spain, she was pursued by local police who believed that she had murdered someone.
Suffering from amnesia and not knowing her past, the film then flashbacked to five days earlier. She was a professional daredevil stuntwoman at Death Valley, CA named Claire. She learned, revealed in mixed-up flashbacks, that she was planning a free-fall stunt (without a parachute) into a giant safety net stretched over an artificial, man-made volcano. Before the event, she had traveled to Spain to see her old boyfriend – Spanish acrobat Augustine (Gabriel Byrne, whom Barkin married in 1988 and then divorced in 1993), and reignited a love affair with him despite the fact that he was married to Marie (Isabella Rossellini). There were deadly consequences.
The film’s gimmicky plot twist at the end was that Claire had been murdered and her experiences were only the jumbled, fantasy thoughts of her final moments.
Director: Mary Lambert