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Transsiberian (2008) R 111min – Review

December 17th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 9,526 Views


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Transsiberian (2008)The plot: An American couple, Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) take a 7-day train ride from China, where they completed  a church humanitarian mission, to Moscow on Trans-Siberian railroad. On the train they meet another young couple, a Spaniard Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and his girlfriend Abby (Kate Mara). Carlos may be running drugs, hits on Jessie, ends up dead, so when the couple meets drug enforcement detective Grinko on the train – he is the last person Jessie wants to see. Will the couple get implicated in Carlos’s murder and have to deal with Russian methods of crime fighting?

The good: What starts like a great adventure for an American couple quickly builds up into a nightmare with a a great amount of suspense. Very clever plot – I thought I could predict the outcome of some twists in the plot, but every single time I was wrong.  Fantastic acting by everybody. Ben Kinsley is playing a convincing Russian drug enforcement detective and learned to say quite a few phrases. His accent is still strong, but it’s forgivable for the amazing (as always) performance he gave. Great songs in the background. A lot of Lithuanian and Latvian actors in small parts. Fantastic camera work, lighting and locations – all creating haunting atmosphere. I certify that the movie looks authentic and depicts Russians, Russian life and desolation of Siberia and Siberian winter truthfully. The language people use is authentic, and every detail is realistic – from behavior of police, the conditions of hotels, the inability to find anyone, everything being unpredictable and irrational… like they say, “you can’t understand Russia with your mind”. Throughout the movie there’s a feeling of unease. The movie begins with a murder scene. Then when Roy misses the train in the middle of Siberia the suspense begins to build as the audience understands that he is a guy who does not speak the language, has no money in the middle of “Wild Wild East” in the country where every institution is corrupt. This character-driven film has very powerful dialogs, and every character is opened and their actions are completely understandable. I also liked that the director chose an old-fashioned method to show a country – a road-trip through the eyes of a foreigner. Also, I liked that the audience is forced to be stuck on the train with the four main characters in that compartment.

The bad: Bad ending. Too good to be true. Are things really that bad in Russia? They should have “Survivor – Siberia” show episode produced there! The movie is not particularly violent, except for one torture scene – the cause for “R” rating. Could two bandits really hijack a train? Roy never explains why hi missed the train.

The summary: ”Don’t talk to strangers”. Don’t go to Russia. Seriously, this is a beautifully shot character-driven emotionally-charged compelling drama with great convincing acting. Shot in Lithuania.

Memorable quotes:

- You couldn’t miss USSR. USSR was an evil dark empire!
- In USSR we were living in the dark – now we die in the light. In USSR life expectancy was 65 – now it’s 58. I know this fact very well – I am 58.

- With lies you can get ahead, but never go back.

The cast: Roy – Woody Harrelson | Jessie – Emily Mortimer | Grinko - Ben Kingsley | Abby – Kate Mara | Carlos – Eduardo Noriega | Kozak – Thomas Kretschmann | Frenchman – Etienne Chicot | Minister – Mac McDonald | Embassy Official – Colin Stinton

The crew: Director – Brad Anderson | Writers – Brad Anderson, Will Conroy | Producers – Carlos Fernández, Julio Fernández, Antonia Nava, Álvaro Augustín, Jet Christiaanse, Todd Dagres, Tania Reichert-Facilides, Ramunas Skikas, Michael Williams | Cinematography – Xavi Giménez | Original Music – Alfonso Vilallonga

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Rated 4/5 on Dec 17 2008
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Tags: DVD · Drama · Movies · Thrillers/Suspense · USA

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