Tag Archives: André Téchiné

The Girl on the Train

14 Apr

Title: The Girl on the Train
Year: 2009
Director: André Téchiné
Writers: André Téchiné, Odile Barski and Jean-Marie Besset, adapting from the play by Jean-Marie Besset
Starring: Emilie Dequenne, Catherine Deneuve, Nicolas Duvauchelle
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime: 105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Deneuve and Dequenne are outstanding in this film which I quite enjoyed from that very first extended traveling shot in which we were the train, inside the tunel, speeding fast towards that light we’re seeing at the end of it all. This is a fact-based film, and incredible at that, and its a terrific character study of Jeanne, a woman that’s beautiful in her own different way and who lives with her mother, Louise, near a train track. Jeanne rides the train, she roller blades, she tries to get a job.

Then Jeanne meets Franck, a rough athlete that seduces her until they move in together, but then their relationship turns bad, and Jeanne ends up pretending she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. I said this was a story based on actual facts, the facts are ones that made news in 2004, about this woman who said she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack by six African men who she said pulled her hair, slashed her clothes, made swastikas on her body and pushed over the stroller where her baby was.

You can see how these news would shock the world, the then-president of Frances, Jacques Chirac condemned the attack, Israeli authorities urged the Jews of France to leave to avoid further incidents like that. But then, the victim of the attack, who wasn’t even Jewish, came forward saying that she had made up the whole thing.

The film doesn’t focus on the political issues and further complications and extended consequences of this, Mr. Téchiné, with whom I share a first name, is a filmmaker that likes it better to explore more the emotions and psychological complexities beneath it all, he doesn’t do it like a filmmaker that pretends to understand, he’s just a filmmaker that likes to illustrate. The scenes in which Jeanne rollerblades to nowhere may seem as just that, but they also feel like much more.

Téchiné divides his film into two very distinct parts, the circumstances and the consequences, and he does a fine job exploring the story, introducing a Jewish family along the way. Yes, this is a fact-based story, but it doesn’t focus on the lie, it focuses on the woman, on why she did why she did, on how much she wanted love, and on every thing else that can be read between the lines of the obvious things other filmmakers would have rather focused on, and in that way this one succeeds.

Grade: B

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