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+

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About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on May 10, 2003, in 2003 Movies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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