Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years

 

16th January 2018 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

L’Homme du Train (The Man on the Train)

France/UK/Germany/Japan 2003 90 mins


Manesquier Jean Rochefort Director Patrice Leconte
Milan Johnny Hallyday Writer Claude Klotz
Luigi Jean-François Stevénin Cinematographer Jean-Marie Dreujou
Max Charlie Nelson Editor Joëlle Hache
Sadko
Viviane
Pascale Parmentier
Isabelle Petit- Jacques
Music
Pascale Estève

Leconte is one of those filmmakers whose movies never look anything alike. He delights in subverting genres, playing with the look of a film, getting into the characters and settings with intricate detail. This film is no exception. It's about two men who meet by accident and completely alter each others' lives. Milan (Hallyday) is the titular man, who leaves the train in a small town and ends up staying with the fusty old Manesquier (Rochefort) when the hotel turns out to be closed. Milan obviously has a purpose for being here, and Manesquier slowly figures it out. Soon these two very different man see something in each other that sparks their imaginations--Manesquier sees in Milan the man he always fantasised about being (a bank robber), while Milan sees Manesquier as the man he wishes he could someday become, settled into a quiet, comforting routine, alone and far from the violence ... and the morons he has to work with. Where they end up is wholly unexpected, and owes not a little to David Lynch.

L'homme du Train poster

Every element of this film is so finely tuned that it's hard to criticise. Leconte opens the film like a Western with the stranger arriving in an empty town that seems to be rolling itself up to get away from him. Then we enter Manesquier's fading and overcrowded little world, contrasted against the set-up for the robbery ... and other things that add to Leconte's mysterious tapestry. Hallyday and Rochefort simply inhabit their characters--we never doubt them for a second, miles apart in every way and yet discovering a surprising point where their hearts and minds intersect. Meanwhile, Leconte directs with style and colour, drawing us in with humour and a spark of suspense because we haven't a clue where the story might be going, but we know full well that it's going somewhere intriguing. There are life-changing decisions everywhere, regrets to rectify, futures to plan--all due to a random encounter. In the end it's a bit surreal and light (yes, at the same time), but it's so delightfully done that we don't mind at all.

Rich Cline at www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk