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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brad Anderson
Produced by Julio Fernández
Written by Brad Anderson & Will Conroy
Starring Woody Harrelson
Emily Mortimer
Kate Mara
Eduardo Noriega
with Thomas Kretschmann
and Ben Kingsley
Music by Alfonso Vilallonga
Cinematography Xavi Giménez
Editing by Jaume Martí
Distributed by First Look Studios
Release date(s) July 18, 2008
Running time 111 min.
Country Lithuania
United Kingdom
United States
Language English

Transsiberian is a 2008 thriller film directed by Brad Anderson, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and began its theatrical release on July 18, 2008 in New York City.

Written by Anderson and Will Conroy, the film stars Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Kate Mara, Eduardo Noriega, Thomas Kretschmann, and Ben Kingsley. The film is set on the Trans-Siberian Railway and its Trans-Manchurian branch, which runs from China to Moscow. Filming began in December 2006 in Vilnius, Lithuania, with additional photography in Beijing and Russia.



An American couple, Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer), takes the train from Beijing to Moscow as an adventurous side trip on their return home from a Christian mission in China. The gregarious Roy befriends their cabin mates, a Spanish man, Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), traveling with his Seattle-born girlfriend, Abby (Kate Mara). The reserved Jessie does not share her husband's warmth towards the globe trotting pair. In course of the journey, Carlos shows Jessie a collection of "rare" souvenir matryoshka dolls he is carrying.

When Roy misses the train in Irkutsk while sightseeing, Jessie is left alone with Carlos and Abby. Jessie decides to get off the train at Ilanskaya station and wait for Roy to arrive in another train. Carlos and Abby get off the train with Jessie, claiming she would not be safe alone, and the three of them proceed to a hotel. In the restaurant, Jessie sees dolls nearly identical to the ones that Carlos had shown her. Abby is upset when she mentions this and goes off to bed. Jessie begs Carlos not to involve Abby in his suspicious activities.

The next morning Carlos comes to Jessie's room, tells her that his shower is not working and asks to use her bathroom. Jessie receives a call from the reception desk and leaves Carlos alone in her room. At the reception she later receives a telephone call confirming that Roy will rejoin her at 4 o'clock, and Carlos convinces Jessie to accompany him on a trek into the middle of a snowy wilderness, where they come upon the ruins of an abandoned church.

Jessie, an amateur photographer, starts taking pictures of the old church. At first she surrenders to Carlos' advances and the two begin kissing. However, Jessie comes to her senses when a collapsing part of the roof nearly hits them and asks Carlos to stop. Carlos refuses to back down, calling Jessie a tease. Finally terrified of Carlos' continued advances, Jessie struggles and eventually kills him. Though horrified and dazed, she manages to return to the railway station and rejoin Roy on the train.

Ilya Grinko (Ben Kingsley), an inquisitive Russian narcotics officer whom Roy previously befriended, turns out to be the new cabin mate of Roy and Jessie. Jessie finds Carlos' dolls in her own suitcase and realizes that Carlos must have hidden them when he was in her room that morning. In the course of a conversation with Grinko about his police work, Jessie realizes that Carlos was smuggling heroin in those dolls, and she unsuccessfully tries to get rid of the dolls. She panics when Grinko becomes suspicious and confronts her. When she returns to her cabin to find Roy examining the dolls, she breaks down and explains their origins to Roy, though without telling him about Carlos' death. The two of them surrender the dolls to Ilya, who at first seems satisfied that they were not involved in the smuggling operation.

The next morning, however, she and Roy awake to discover that most of the train's cars are now gone along with the passengers - only Grinko and his partner Kolzak (Thomas Kretschmann) remain. Grinko and Kolzak stop the train in the middle of nowhere and take Jessie and Roy to an abandoned military bunker, where Abby is being tortured. Grinko turns out to be on the payroll of a Russian drug lord and explains he wants to do more than recover the heroin; he wants the money that Carlos carried which belonged to the drug lord. Grinko tells Jessie that Abby is not a "good girl" as Jessie had thought - Abby recruited Carlos, was responsible for another man's death, and is trying to cheat the drug lord of his money. Jessie disbelieves Grinko because Carlos told her Abby was innocent.

Jessie and Roy manage to escape with the train thanks to Roy's railfan knowledge. However, the train has a head-on collision with another train, and in a dramatic confrontation Grinko shoots Kolzak to maintain his cover that he is on the right side of the law, claiming to have rescued Jessie and Roy from a hostage situation. Jessie, weakened, tries to tell the rescuers that Grinko is lying, but the Russians don't understand English. As she loses consciousness, she sees Grinko walking away into the woods.

U.S. officials later tell Jessie and Roy about Carlos' criminal history. He has past convictions for both theft and sexual assault. The officials don't know anything about Abby and think she is just a twenty-year-old who got mixed up with the wrong guy. Jessie never tells the officials that she killed Carlos, although Roy may or may not have heard her admit to this when the train was about to crash. Upon touring Moscow and seeing a billboard of a girl sitting on the end of a dock (similar to a scene Abby had described as her dream home), Jessie insists on talking to Abby in the hospital.

The last scene shows a still limping Abby finding Carlos's body in the snow by the old church. Abby tears open a hidden pocket in his jacket and finds all the money that had been stolen. She takes the money and walks away, leaving Carlos' body without a backward glance.


The film has received mostly positive reviews. It has a 90 percent "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes (with a 94 percent approval rating from top critics). Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times praised the film, saying it builds "true fear and suspense".

According to Box Office Mojo, it ultimately grossed US$2,206,405 in the United States and US$5,624,492 worldwide.



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