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A teacher and a gangster meet by chance in a small town pharmacy. As a friendship of sorts develops between these opposite personalities, each starts to envy the other and by the week's end, everything will change for both of them. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A surprising intersection of two contrasting lives
"Man on the Train (L'Homme du train)" is a small story of cumulative details done exceedingly well that could simply not be done by Hollywood.
The excellent leads, each charismatic in his own way, talky Jean Rochefort and taciturn Johnny Hallyday (who brings none of his pop star baggage to an American audience), are past middle age. There is a lot of Rohmer-like sitting around talking over a bottle of wine.
The emphasis is on very gradual, internal realizations by each character that are revealed by a subtle accretion of surprising little decisions, such as wearing slippers or getting a new haircut, culminating in an unpredictable, yet beautifully satisfying conclusion.
Photographed in a shades of gray palette that is almost in black-and-white, a small town and its interconnections and personalities are beautifully evoked.
The women in their lives are ancillary, which is just as well, as they are not completely believable.
The poetry teacher is too sophisticated to quote John Greenleaf Whittier, but I will, on the theme: "Of all the words of tongue or pen/the saddest are these/It might have been."
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