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A man, Jerzy, enters a train set for the Baltic coast. He seems to be on the run from something--and so does the strange woman with whom he must share a sleeping compartment. Written by
Stylishly shot and constantly interesting thriller
Night Train is the first film I've seen from highly rated Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz and it's a highly impressive film too! The film takes on a Hitchcockian style, although Kawalerowicz' directorial style is more sombre than Hitchcock's and the film straddles the line between thriller/mystery and drama excellently. As the title suggests, the film is set aboard a train, and the director really makes good use of this setting as the claustrophobia of the vehicle is constantly imposed, and other elements such as the chance of meeting strangers on a train and the idea of a lot of different people being together in one place also come into play. The film focuses on Jerzy; a mysterious man who boards a train on course for the Baltic coast. It soon becomes apparent that the man has a high need for privacy, and this is disrupted by Martha, a woman who he finds in his compartment. At first he seems keen to get rid of her, but later reluctantly agrees to let her stay. It later transpires that the police are on the hunt for a man who murdered hid wife...and Jerzy finds himself under suspicion.
The film is stylishly shot and Kawalerowicz' style reminded me somewhat of the "Nouvelle Vogue" style that was popular in France around the early sixties. The black and white picture helps to impose a dark atmosphere on the film and this in turn helps to build the mystery surrounding the central character. The characters themselves are all interesting and the way that the director feeds us more information about each one as the film progresses is well done and helps to keep the audience interested in the film. The acting courtesy of Leon Niemczyk and Lucyna Winnicka in the central roles is excellent and both performers give their characters plenty of credibility. The murderer plot often feels like something of a spare wheel to the other things going on in the film, but I think this was intended as by not putting the full focus on this plot, more time is given to developing the characters. The results of this plot are stunning, however, and the sequence that finally sees the murderer chased down is well shot and highly memorable. As the film winds down, Jerzy Kawalerowicz gives us an interesting take on the twist ending and this helps to separate Night Train further from the majority of other thrillers. Overall, this is a fascinating little thriller and comes highly recommended!
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