12
Sep
08

Movie Review: Transsiberian

 

 

One solid ride from Beijing to Moscow.

 

Starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Eduardo Noriega, Ben Kingsley, and Kate Mara. Directed by Brad Anderson

 

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are Roy and Jessie, two Americans in Beijing who are helping disadvantaged kids in China through Roy’s church. Roy is affable, happy-go-lucky, and dopey; he’s a manager of a hardware store who loves trains, which leads them to taking the Transsiberia Express. Jessie we find out wandered into Roy’s life via a DUI accident and spends her time perfecting amateur photography. Both love each other, but are having their problems.

 

Enter Carlos and Abby (Noriega and Mara), two drifters who stay in the same cabin as Roy and Jessie. Carlos says that Abby is a teacher in Korea, but little else of what she or he does. As the film progresses each of the characters aren’t quite what they seem and try figuring the others out. Abby is just a drifter, Carlos is a drug mule, Jessie is dealing with her inner demons, and Roy is oblivious to the seedy side of people.

 

What follows is Jessie and Roy becoming separated, with Carlos and Abby staying with her. After an altercation with Carlos, Jessie finally reunites with Roy and is introduced to Grinko (Kingsley), a Russian Narcotics Detective who knows more about Carlos and Abby than he lets on. With the altercation becoming the main Plot Point the film hinges on, lies beget more lies and Roy and Jessie are soon on the run for their lives.

 

The incredible thing about this film is that it hangs on the acting of Emily Mortimer; I have no clue as to how close her real life may have been to the source material, but I never stopped believing her character. Woody Harrelson was subdued, Kingsley did a good job, and I haven’t seen Noriega in anything since “Open Your Eyes.”

 

If you, dear reader, detect even an ounce of ambiguity to the description, it’s because there’s so much about this film that I can’t/won’t tell you because it would destroy going to see this film. Brad Anderson is my one of my favorite psychological thriller directors (next to Christopher Nolan) and with films such as “Session 9” and “The Machinist” under his belt, this is in the same ballpark. Other critics have denounced the beginning as being slow but hey, not all movies have to “hit the ground running.” Plus the buildup in the movie is incredible. And the ending, while happy, still left my nerves unsettled for the rest of the night.

 

One fun thriller with “Strangers on a Train,” and “Rope” influence thrown in. Hitchcock would be proud.

 

My grade: A

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