I walked the red carpet last night, a short velvety walkway from the entrance to the Somerville Theater out to the sidewalk that was rolled out for the opening night of the Independent Film Festival Boston. Rumor has it that the carpet was held in place by red duct tape, but I couldn’t tell amid all the flashbulbs—photographers looking for the perfect shot (just not of me). Apparently, Ben Kingsley scooted in just before the screening of Transsiberian, a film by Brad Anderson (who directed Next Stop Wonderland) starring Emily Mortimer, Woody Harrelson and Gandhi himself as a Russian detective. I couldn’t see the arrival action because I was in a line that stretched around a couple blocks, but I had a nice time chatting with festival volunteers and other film buffs. And on a night where temps were in the 70s, it was much warmer than Sundance.
Transsiberian, which won’t see wide release for a few months, takes place largely on the train that goes from Beijing to Moscow—think The Darjeeling Limited as a Hitchcockian thriller. The claustrophobic setting ratchets up the tension and the stark terrain of Siberia lends the movie atmosphere; you never really know where it’s going. The performances are excellent, including Kingsley’s lines of Russian dialogue, which he said he would repeat after his Russian language coach standing just off set. The action swept me along, and I ultimately overlooked the somewhat unrealistic moments that occurred toward the end. Ben Kingsley’s presence in the audience kept me from chuckling; he did, after all, play a tough Russian detective, and I didn’t want him reprising his role.