Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
L'Homme du Train (The Man on the Train) (2003)
12

You'd have to be French to fully appreciate Patrice Leconte's coupling of actor Jean Rochefort with rock star Johnny Hallyday in "L'Homme du Train". Imagine Laurence Olivier starring with Elvis Presley and you might get some idea of the cultural weight this partnership carries across La Manche.

However, arthouse-frequenting Brits should still appreciate this gentle fable about two strangers whose lives intersect.

Arriving by train at a small town in the provinces, enigmatic loner Milan (Hallyday) goes in search of aspirin to ease a raging headache. Instead he encounters Manesquier (Rochefort), a retired teacher who is as verbose and convivial as Milan is taciturn and reserved.

The older man offers his new acquaintance a room in his large decaying mansion, and the two warily become friends. Each, though, has a secret. Milan plans to rob the local bank, while Manesquier is about to undergo a triple heart bypass.

As the pair approach their dates with destiny, writer Claude Klotz has them admiring, and even envying, each other's lifestyle. The OAP imagines himself a man of action, while the hood dreams of a quiet life beside the fire.

The subtle osmosis continues as Leconte, having assigned both characters a distinctive musical and visual signature, delicately elides them.

Not much more happens than that, but those who value artistry over incident will find much to savour en route to the film's transcendental climax.

Above all, though, this is an actor's picture, with Hallyday's craggy menace chiming perfectly with Rochefort's rueful charm.

In French with English subtitles.

End Credits

Director: Patrice Leconte

Writer: Claude Klotz

Stars: Jean Rochefort, Johnny Hallyday, Charlie Nelson, Pascal Parmentier, Charlie Nelson, Jean-François Stévenin, Isabelle Petit-Jacques

Genre: Drama, World Cinema

Length: 90 minutes

Cinema: 21 March 2003

Country: France

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