Wednesday, August 24, 2022

French Movie Mercredi: L'Homme du Train (2002)


L'Homme du Train is a 2002 movie directed by Patrice Leconte (Monsieur Hire, The Hairdresser's Husband, Ridicule) and starring two icons of French cinema and music, Jean Rochefort and Johnny Hallyday. It was pretty interesting.

Milan, a bank robber played by rock star Hallyday, rolls into town on the aforementioned train and needs a place to stay; he falls in with good-natured retired teacher Manesquier, played by Rochefort. The two build an uneasy trust with Manesquier itching to play out a bad-guy fantasy after seeing Milan's leather jacket and guns. Milan, for his part, wonders what life would be like in Manesquier's country home teaching poetry. 

Leconte films are usually edgy, suspenseful and weird; this one ticks those boxes but it's very low-key and everything feels really underplayed and underexpressed. It's like a middle-aged-guy bromance, each man wondering what it would be like to fill the other's shoes. Hallyday exudes a quiet menace and Manesquier is attracted to that, attracted to the chaos he represents and the barely repressed violence and danger he exudes. Manesquier's quiet respectability and his love of poetry seem to gain Milan's equally quiet respect. 

Tension builds around the robbery that Milan is planning with his cronies, and around an upcoming operation that Manesquier is planning as well. Their fates are intertwined.

Definitely edgy, suspenseful and weird, L'Homme du Train is like a Sunday morning movie when you've had one cup of coffee too many. It will leave you a little jittery and a little worn out, but it's worth it.

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