American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Transsiberian" is (how shall I put this?) one hell of a thriller.
It's not often that I feel true suspense and dread building within me, but they were building during long stretches of this expertly constructed film. It takes place mostly on board the Transsiberian Express from Beijing to Moscow, at eight days the longest train journey in the world. And it uses the train as an asset: The characters all have to be on here somewhere, don't they?
The movie stars Emily Mortimer as Jesse and Woody Harrelson as her husband Roy. They've just finished working with poor kids in China on behalf of their church group. Roy is a train buff. I've known a couple, and they're exactly like this: Thinking nothing of going out in the minus 23-degree cold of Siberia to check out an old steam engine. Emily, we learn, was a wild child when younger, is now clean and sober. Roy is a straight arrow. They love each other.
On board the train they meet another couple. Abby (Kate Mara) is confused 20-year-old runaway from Seattle. Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), 10 or 15 years older, is a charming Spanish traveler, who knows a lot about customs and passports.