Saturday, November 8, 2008
I’ve said it ‘round these parts before: I’ve been waiting for a Brad Anderson film to kick me in the a$, and while Transsiberian doesn’t completely do that, it’s close enough.
Husband and wife Roy and Jessie (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) are on a train from China to Russia when they cross paths with Carlos and Abby (Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara); it’s this chance meeting between both couples that bring all four down a treacherous path none of them could have anticipated.
Clearly Anderson’s most accomplished work to date, Transsiberian brings together a solid cast that also includes Sir Ben Kingsley as Detective Ilya Grinko and Thomas Kretschmann as Kolzak.
All these principal performers make the best of their screen time, particularly the couples, who get a fair amount of the narrative’s focus, particularly during the film’s first act. It’s in this section where we learn who these characters are, not just from their dialogue, but from their mannerisms and their attitudes.
And not only does Transsiberian’s script—co-written by Anderson with Will Conroy—treat its characters with respect and inform them with a humanity that allows them to be individuals, it also takes some interesting turns, confounding conventional plot expectations.
Reuniting with Xavi Giménez, his cinematographer on El Maquinista (The Machinist), Anderson brings aboard editor Jaume Martí (who’s tag teamed with Giménez in the past on Jaume Balaguero’s Fragiles).
The manner in which Giménez and Martí capture the imagery and emotion of the narrative certainly helps Transsiberian keep its audience involved in this thriller, which allows the plot to grow organically from the solid foundation of characterization laid down by Anderson, Conroy, and the film’s performers.
Ultimately, Transsiberian delivers, though definitely on its own terms and not by the usual Hollywood thriller standards.
So if you’re looking for something absorbing and exciting, with some good performances in it, then Transsiberian is definitely your ride.
Parting shot: Reviews of Anderson’s other works, El Maquinista, Masters of Horror episode “Sounds Like,” and Fear Itself episode “Spooked,” can be found in the Archive, where a review of Balaguero’s Fragiles may also be found.
(Transsiberian OS courtesy of impawards.com and images courtesy of bloody-disgusting.com.)