The Man on the Train (2003)
A dark stranger gets off a train in France. He has piercing blue eyes and a weathered face with a machine-like expression. This man is Milan (Johnny Hallyday) and he’s stopping by this small French town for a new job. Oh, Milan’s business is robbing banks. In this small village he befriends a garrulous retired poetry teacher, Monsieur Manesquie (Jean Rochefort). The two men spend their time wishing they had the life of the other. Milan openly seeks a comfortable life surrounded by books. Manesquie is a huge fan of Clint Eastwood movies and longs for some action in his life. He secretly dreams of one day robbing a bank just for the fun of it.
So, an interesting start for a film, right? Sure. But this IS the movie. The Man on the Train is a middling character experiment. The two men rub off each other, with Milan teaching a young boy the wonders of poetry, and Monsieur Manesquie learning how to properly fire a gun. The scenes are nice and both actors are splendid (especially French rocker Hallyday) but the film is one long muddled and meandering trip until our inevitable climax. The ending feels needlessly open-ended and a tad clumsy. There’s also a subplot featuring a young mistress for Monsieur Manesquie that sticks out like a sore thumb.
The Man on the Train is well shot and well acted but it only feels like the first half of a movie. I’m sure plenty of people out there will appreciate the character nuances and small moments, but this is a film completely driven by small moments that never adds up to anything larger. Maybe The Man on the Train just isn’t for me. Or maybe I need to just wait for the second half, if it ever gets made.
Nate’s Grade: C+
Posted on May 10, 2003, in 2003 Movies and tagged drama, foreign. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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