Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Film Review: Transsiberians

by Eric Green

Anderson Film Gets you to Thinking; On the Edge of Your seat

Before you and your mate[s] decide on your romantic train ride in Europe and Asia, think twice. While the Orient Express has the history of the great film, "Murder on the Orient Express," to worry about, it could be a better choice than the highly adventurous Transsiberian railroad.

In his new film, Brad Anderson, takes you on a train ride from Beijing, China to Moscow, Russia. And, as you can suspect, this being a murder/mystery film, the overriding topic would be drug trafficketing. After all, that is a major feature of Post Soviet Russia; and, always a good thriller theme.

In this well directed, although sometimes a little over the boundary of believability, film, you get to see the new Russia through they eyes of 5 rather well developed characters.

Ben Kingsley, a government drug enforcement agent who worked at the same job in Soviet times and also post Soviet times, plays the most interesting character.

When the innocent US traveler played by Woody Harrelson questioned Kinglsey's almost wistfully positive comments about the Soviet era, Kingsley made it clear that while in those days the light might not have been so bright, in current times, the bright light brings with it massive wealth and lots of poverty. And, with that major drug dealings.

Emily Mortimer plays Harrelson's seemingly innocent wife, but who has a past that becomes very important to Kate Mara's character. Mortimer's attempt to befriend Mara and get her to learn from her very difficult times, actually takes some very well directed and written turns as the film moves towards its ending.

Eduardo Noriega, a Spanish film actor, is the obviously handsome and devious drug dealer and one who almost steals the show. Anderson must have learned of Noriega through Anderson's previous film, The Machinist, with Christian Bale. That film was financed by the Spanish Government film industry.

This film has over 15 producers and many contributions from different governmental film agencies.

The film is not always easy to watch, but I would put it on the must see list.

While this film is certainly not the documentary film or even mainstream film that some people hope, will, someday, begin to tell the truth about the Soviet Union. Maybe, in its own simple way, the Brad Anderson may provoke such a retrospective of thinking.

We saw the film at the Paris Theater in Manhattan, 58th Street and Fifth Avenue. The cost of the film was $1.00 less for regulars and seniors: $11 and $7.50. The theatre is a landmark theatre since its been running films since 1948, the longest, continuous art cinema in the US.