L'Homme Du Train

L'Homme Du Train


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is the stench of artificiality about this from the start. A stranger from the train arrives in a small French town. He is carrying guns. He meets a retired schoolmaster and they get to talking, except the stranger, in the tradition of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, knows that silence is golden.

It isn't quite as formulaic as it sounds, because this is a Patrice Leconte movie and he doesn't have off days. The stranger (Johnny Hallyday) is a bank robber. What's more, he looks like one with his black leather jacket and severe haircut. The schoolmaster (Jean Rochefort) rattles around in a big house, seemingly devoid of a social life, desperate for company. A bit of an old woman, if the truth be told.

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Two things are going to happen at the end of the week. One of them will hold up the local bank and the other go under the knife for heart surgery. The days before are spent shooting the breeze, eating and drinking, even becoming friends. There are others who fiddle about at the edges of things, such as the stranger's gang, the schoolmaster's mistress, a boy who comes for private lessons, the barber, the surgeon. None interfere with the general flow of conversation.

Hallyday's Mongolian head is like a rock sculpture. His presence is more powerful than the quality of his acting. Rochefort appears in his seventh Leconte movie with the ease and confidence of a much loved relative. He can play the fool, spread thick the charm and dabble in eccentricity, unafraid of reprimand. Old friends, old habits die hard.

The actors, the style, the language, the icy blue light and Pascal Esteve's original score endeavour to find a heartbeat in the body of the text. It would be wrong to say that the corpse remains lifeless.

Reviewed on: 19 Mar 2003
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A bank robber and a retired schoolmaster become friends in a small French town.
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Director: Patrice Leconte

Writer: Claude Klotz

Starring: Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-Francois Stevenin, Charlie Nelson, Pascal Pamentier, Isabelle Petit-Jacques

Year: 2002

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: France


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