Moviegoers hitch a ride with Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) on their ill-fated rail journey through the “wild, wild East” in this 2008 film. It recounts the misadventures of the hapless American couple who travel aboard the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Siberian railways on the epic 5,000-mile trip from Beijing to Moscow.
The storied Trans-Siberian railway retraces the ancient caravan route between China and Russia, and director Brad Anderson uses Jessie’s camera lens to frame majestic views of Siberia’s snow-crowned fir and birch woods. The vastness and solitude of the enigmatic wilderness appear almost as palpable as the rhythmic clatter and lurching of the vintage passenger coaches.
The movie pulses with realistic scenes of vodka-laced singing in the dining car, strange encounters with furtive passengers in dimly lighted hallways, and incomprehensible tirades by beefy Russian train attendants. During stops at remote villages, the camera pans babushkas (grandmothers) selling boiled potatoes and piroshki (meat-filled pastries) from baby buggies on the railroad platform. --Claudia Capos