Rarely ever do we watch a film and at the end tell ourselves, Man, this is so good. I’m gonna see it again.
The French film L’Homme du Train (The Man on the Train) is one such delightful exception, a movie so bewitching that we plan to stream it a second time on Netflix Instant Play. Soon.
Great acting, nice humor, an offbeat story, lovely music and good writing converge to create a poignant classic that lingers in the mind long after the last credits flash by.
Directed by Patrice Leconte, L’Homme du Train (2002) is essentially a story of two people, contrasting characters.
The setting is a small French town with a bank, a baguette and just a few other establishments.
To this ‘not so lively little’ town comes a gangster Milan (Johnny Hallyday, a.k.a. the French Elvis) on the train with the plan of robbing the local bank.
At the pharmacy, where Milan has gone to purchase some aspirin for a severe migraine his path collides with that of retired poet Monsieur Manesquier (Jean Rochefort).
The only hotel in town is shut and Milan stays with the old bachelor Manesquier.
A warm friendship, an unusual bonding builds up between two unlikely characters in the short time.
Having lived a humdrum life for several decades, the old bachelor aspires for some excitement. In one scene, he dons Milan’s flashy jackets and fancies himself as the Sheriff in a Western movie.
Meanwhile, Milan for the first time wears slippers. And once, even ‘teaches’ Balzac to a young boy who comes by regularly for lessons from the old man although he knows nothing of the book.
For those of you hooked on lots of action and a fast pace, this movie is not for you. L’Homme du Train proceeds at an unhurried pace but never boring, not even for an instant.
Jean Rochefort is a towering icon of the screen, one of the last legends still with us. The man conveys more in a single, small gesture than Akshay Kumar and his simian Bollywood cohorts do in five minutes of blabbing.
We can’t think of any living actor who’s impressed us so much.
Johnny Hallyday did an outstanding job too as the gangster heading to his inevitable destiny, one we sense coming soon for both men.
Our movie came with English subtitles but L’Homme du Train is such a glorious, vivid painting on the screen that were there to be no subtitles we’d still have enjoyed it.
Pascal Estève’s seductive soundtrack adds to the bountiful charms of the movie and perfectly in sync with the mood of the film.
A few minutes back, we purchased the hauntingly lovely track L’homme du Train at iTunes and repeatedly listening to it as we type this post.
We must confess that the ending left us perplexed. Maybe, when we watch it the second time we’ll get a better sense of it.
In L’Homme du Train, Leconte has delivered another gem. A couple of years back, we watched and reviewed his Monsieur Hire.
By the way, an English version of L’Homme du Train has recently been completed featuring Donald Sutherland and Larry Mullen Jr and is set for release in 2011.