Banner

Transsiberian

Transsiberian

What She said:

She

Transsiberian is a smart drama/thriller that follows a couple, Roy and Jessie, played by Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer who are trekking across Russia on the Transsiberian Railroad in an attempt to reignite their marriage.  Ok, I know it sounds like crap so far, but keep listening.  They encounter a younger couple, an American girl, Abby (Kate Mara), and a Spaniard, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), who initially seem fairly normal, but turn out to hold secrets that could get Roy and Jessie in big trouble.  And that’s about all of the background I can give without providing too many spoilers. 

The movie is quite interesting.  It may seem slow at first, but if you sit back and let all the plot points unravel, you should become effectively entranced.  There’s lots of secrets and lots of people who aren’t who they seem.  Ben Kingsley also pops up as a Russian cop named Grinko.  He really puts on a show with his fake Russian accent, and yet is believable. 

There were a few times when I had trouble making out the dialogue.  Carlos’ accent and fast talking can be difficult to understand.  But it’s essential that the viewer try to get as much of it as possible because that is where the beauty of the story is.  By the end of the film, you should be able to put all of the pieces together to discern everyone’s true motivations.  The cinematography is very effective, capturing the somber beauty of the Siberian countryside. 

I really found this moving fascinating, and, having seen it a few times, am continually surprised by how much I like it.

Thumbs up.

What he said:

He

How do I review this movie without spoiling it for you? It’s really a lot harder than it sounds, because if I go too in-depth about the movie’s plot I would be giving quite a bit away, and part of the fun of this movie is watching in unfold.

Transsiberian reminds me of Monsters The Road or A Simple Plan.  It’s paced in a very specific way and isn’t in your face. It might even be a little slow for some people’s tastes, but it’s clearly intentional. The movie is told in a slower pace because it wants you to know a little more about who the main characters are before anything prominent happens. By the time things start unfolding, you feel like you know Roy and Jessie (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) quite well, and I found that worked in the movie’s favor.

Roy and Jessie are doing missionary work in China. Finished with that leg of their journey, they take a train across the country to Russia. Roy chooses this mode of transportation because he’s something of a train enthusiast and also he feels it will add a little much-needed adventure to their lives. While on the train they meet Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) and Abby (Kate Mara).

The new couple never really says much about themselves other than that they enjoy traveling and having a good time.

Roy enjoys their company. He admires their sense of adventure and likes throwing back a few drinks with Carlos, who really seems to like to party. Jessie isn’t as fond of Carlos as her husband is, but seems to bond with Abby.

Along the way, Roy gets separated from the group. Jessie is forced to wait for him for a day or so at small hotel along the next stop on the train route. Carlos and Abby decide to stay with her, as they feel it is unsafe for a woman to travel alone.

By the time Roy meets back up with his wife, he has met – and been traveling with – police officer Ilya Grinko (Ben Kingsley). Kingsley is very good btw. This is when things really start to unfold. Some questions are answered, new ones pop up, and the enjoyment is really kicked up a notch. It’s not that it was boring before this, just the pace of the movie changes significantly. It is a very carefully told mystery/thriller that really comes together at this point in the movie.

If you have never seen this movie and haven’t gotten enough out of this review to decide whether you want to see it or not, I apologize. But I assure you that if you are still interested in seeing it, you’ll thank me for not spoiling anything.

Verdict: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on August 4, 2011.