Saturday, October 25, 2008

Transsiberian (2008)

Emily Mortimer and Eduardo Noriega

"Kill off all my demons, Roy, and my angels might die, too."
- Jessie (Emily Mortimer)

"In Russia, we say that with lies you may go forward in the world, but you may never go back."
- Grinko (Ben Kingsley)

At a glance: Brad Anderson’s thought-provoking thriller places the viewer on the Trans-Siberian Express, as two Americans chance meeting with a seasoned traveler leads to dangerous destinations

The Transsiberian Express serves as the backdrop for this story of passengers Roy and Jessie (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer), a couple with marital problems who are heading for Moscow after taking part in a church-sponsored event in Beijing. On the train, they share a berth with Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), a much-traveled free-spirit, and his young companion Abby (Kate Mara). Jessie’s wild past is awakened by the allure of Carlos’s irresponsible, charm…with disastrous results. Ben Kingsley is excellent in a small but pivotal role. The clever script allows Mortimer to reveal her story in pieces, with each piece doled out to different characters, which creates a complex web of relationships. All of the actors are on their A game here, with Mortimer and Noriega as standouts, each managing to convey their characters in intriguing shades of gray that will leave you pondering their actions, motivations, and morals. Even Harrelson’s character, seemingly as one-dimensional as they come, has depth. Director Brad Anderson skillfully extracts these performances, as well as setting the claustrophobic mood of train travel, combined with the sometimes confusing and threatening fish-out-of-water feeling that can engulf the overseas traveler. Rating: 3.5 of 4

"It's not often that I feel true suspense and dread building within me, but they were building during long stretches of this expertly constructed film."
- Roger Ebert

"...a tight and terse thriller."
- Chris Barsanti (

"Like Hitchcock films, however, Transsiberian can engage the audience's intellect even while it sets pulses racing."
- Curt Holman (Creative Loafing)

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