After the freakish psychological horror of THE MACHINIST, Brad Anderson, made a more quiet, more realistic but equally unnerving thriller called TRANSSIBERIAN. Set aboard the infamous Russian train, the movie sees an apparently squeaky clean couple returning from missionary work, caught up in an international drugs heist. The tension builds slowly in classic Hitchcock style - the "otherness" of foreigners who don't speak your language is used to great effect. Woody Harrelson is convincing as the warm-hearted, naive Yank, clutching his Baedeker, but it's Emily Mortimer who steals the film as the seemingly fragile wife who is transformed by her entanglement with a mysterious Spanish lotharia and a laconic Russian copper (Ben Kingsley). TRANSSIBERIAN is a rare film that has something to say about modern Russia and a thriller that is genuinely tense and unnerving. My only criticism is that, in contrast with THE MACHINIST, the ending is a little too neat and the shooting style a little too Hollywood-conventional.
TRANSSIBERIAN played Sundance and Berlin 2008 and was released in the USA, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Germany and Turkey in 2008. It opened in Hungary, the Netherlands and Israel earlier this year. It is now available on DVD.
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