Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brief Review: "Transsiberian" (2008)

"Transsiberian" - * * *

Director/writer Brad Anderson ("The Machinist") stages his latest thriller on board the Transsiberian train where an American couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) become entangled in drugs, violence, and MORE when they cross paths with another traveling couple.

Anderson's stripped-down, handheld style gives the film a nice verite feel while still retaining some nice, subtle style.  Great nature shots contrast with the claustrophobia of the various train sequences.  The camera is able to capture moments very well, with capable editing support.

Screenplay is solid, building off many suspense standards into a pretty well-structured story.  At times, the plot moves a bit too predictably, and it may feel tired and unoriginal, but I see it as a film that tries to work more within its genre, knowing its restraints and its standards and using them to the advantage.

Best part of the film is Emily Mortimer, whose character degenerates into insanity and paranoia, a seemingly good girl whose missteps set up each turn of the plot in a way that would have made Hitch smile.  Anderson clearly knows what he's doing, and his genre film is clearly operating on multiple postmodern levels.  Strong production values help make it work, and the ensemble.

I know, I'm rambling a bit here and not in typical form.  Long week for me.  Just wanted to do a little write-up on this movie since I enjoyed it so much.  Very strong work I'm surprised did not get as much attention earlier in the year.

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