Monday, October 05, 2009

La Fille du RER (The Girl on the Train)

A dense and very complex drama by André Téchiné, who also co wrote, that has been described as the most “politicized” film by the great French auteur in recent years, a comeback to his roots with all his trademarks of narrative density, insightful character study and a passionate engagement with the complexities of modern French politics and culture.

Inspired by a true incident the film tells about a girl that was a victim of an anti-Semitic attack and a few weeks later admitted it was not true. But in Téchiné’s skillful hands the story has two chapters, Circumstances and Consequences. For the first 50 minutes or so that lasts Circumstances you will see the life of two families in their mostly everyday inconsequential activities until “something” happens. One is a mother and daughter family with Louise (Catherine Deneuve) and Jeanne (Émilie Dequenne) getting along pretty well. The second family is composed by Samuel Bleistein, a successful attorney and leading figure in Paris’s Jewish community, his son, his daughter-in-law and the grandson.

But actually Circumstances deals a lot more with Louise and Franck, a man she falls for and goes to live with him. Obviously there is a lot that I’m not telling, but suffice to say that in Consequences you will see how one incident detonates the real life incident on which the film was inspired and how the two families gather together to resolve their various differences.

Absolutely not for general audiences as it’s a very complex drama that deals more with the characters than with the incidents, so there are many incidents that Téchiné simply chose not to show and are left to your imagination. Using an image, I believe that this is a film with islands as narrative and invisible channels that take you from one island to another. The film has excellent production values with remarkable performances by Deneuve and especially Dequenne in her award winning role as Jeanne; but I’m always impressed with the spectacular performances by Ronit Elkabetz that has such a majestic screen presence. This is a film with an A+ cast.

For those not familiar with what RER means let me tell you that is the Parisian train network; so, there are a lot of takes with trains that made me recall the work of Wong Kar-wai and made me think how in your brain you establish territories. For me this kind of train takes absolutely belong to Wong Kar-wai territory.

I highly enjoyed the movie but know that is a very dialogue and visually complex film that only Téchiné’s fans and those that love French really good adult-dramas could enjoy, at least as much as I did.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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