Thursday, November 19, 2009


Movie Review : Transsiberian
Released : 2008
Director : Brad Anderson
Starring : Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley
Genre : Drama, Thriller
Rated : R
My Rating : 8 out of 10

Transsiberian is one of those rare thrillers that depend a lot on characters and their interactions than on actions and situations. Well directed, and extremely well acted, it grabs the viewer by making them understand the characters and why they react the way they do.

An American couple, Roy and Jessie (played by Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer), is returning from some missionary work in China. They decide to take the trans-Siberian train to Moscow. At about same time, the Russian narcotics detective Grinko (Ben Kingsley) starts on the other tributary from Vladivostok on an unrelated mission. Eventually, his path intersects with Roy and Jessie. Along the route, Roy and Jessie are joined by another couple Carlos and Kate. They are friendly, but you can sense that they are not such a good company. Jessie is aware from the very first minute that Carlos has his eyes on her.

At a long stop, Carlos and Roy go for a walk, while Jessie and Kate have their girl-talk. When the train starts, Jessie discovers that Roy is not on-board. She decides to get off the next stop and wait for Roy. Carlos and Kate join her, offering a friendly gesture so that Jessie is not alone.

What happens afterward has to be watched in the movie, although an experienced viewer is not really going to be surprised. Such surprises are not really the point of the movie. You will be glued to the sense of dread that permeates the movie, because you understand the characters.

Roy is naive, to the point of being stupid. Jessie loves him deeply, maybe because his simplicity offers her an opportunity to forget the daemons oh her past and help her stay clean. It's easy to see that Carlos and Kate are not what they claim. You don't necessarily like the characters, but you definitely believe their actions to be consistent with the way the writes have defined them.

The direction is top-notch. Most of the story is on the train and it feels real. The shots of the lonely train traveling through snow-covered Siberia and various native people we meet gives nice touches.

Both Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley lend adequate support to the story. Undoubtedly, Emily Mortimer has done a phenomenal job of acting in this movie. She inartificially shows many different shades of her character's personality. It's her character and her acting that forces you to focus on the movie.

The movie deliberately leaves a couple of things unresolved and for some, the ending may not offer a huge pay-off. Still, I highly recommend this movie. It has some violent scenes, adult situations and is definitely not for kids.

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