The Girl on the Train (La Fille du RER) Reviews
Then Jeanne meets Franck, a rough athlete that seduces her until they move in together, but then their relationship turns bad, and Jeanne ends up pretending she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack. I said this was a story based on actual facts, the facts are ones that made news in 2004, about this woman who said she was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack by six African men who she said pulled her hair, slashed her clothes, made swastikas on her body and pushed over the stroller where her baby was.
You can see how these news would shock the world, the then-president of Frances, Jacques Chirac condemned the attack, Israeli authorities urged the Jews of France to leave to avoid further incidents like that. But then, the victim of the attack, who wasn't even Jewish, came forward saying that she had made up the whole thing.
The film doesn't focus on the political issues and further complications and extended consequences of this, Mr. Téchiné, with whom I share a first name, is a filmmaker that likes it better to explore more the emotions and psychological complexities beneath it all, he doesn't do it like a filmmaker that pretends to understand, he's just a filmmaker that likes to illustrate. The scenes in which Jeanne rollerblades to nowhere may seem as just that, but they also feel like much more.
Téchiné divides his film into two very distinct parts, the circumstances and the consequences, and he does a fine job exploring the story, introducing a Jewish family along the way. Yes, this is a fact-based story, but it doesn't focus on the lie, it focuses on the woman, on why she did why she did, on how much she wanted love, and on every thing else that can be read between the lines of the obvious things other filmmakers would have rather focused on, and in that way this one succeeds.
Jeanne is superb as a free spirit who unwisely reacts to a tragedy by inventing a situation which suggests she is the victim of a violent race-hate crime. And the big strength is the film's unwillingness to dish out easy answers.
That said i though it overrated given some of it's 4 star reviews. Film critics still seduced by Deneuve?
"When she lies, she is in her own world."
"She is quite rebellious, I would say."
Right there, I see another layer of the girl. Then she appears on her rollerblade. A close shot of her sliding on the street shows another meaning of "the girl on the train."
Subtle yet profound.
We see a widowed mother who can only advise her daughter and never steps into her way of doing things, a Jewish lawyer with a son and an on and off wife and a little son, all very educated and sophisticated, a confident boy bordering on aggressive that loves the girl (one of the juciest red herrings of the picture), and the girl herself always one step ahead of her own self as if fueled by blind compulsion. How the lives of these characters play out in this film is far more interesting than it having been a movie about the lie itself. When her faux-attack hits the presses the film rarely cuts to the media frenzy or to a dutiful reporter anxiously looking for her to crack her doubts about the story but instead shows these wise, world-weary and understanding adults in a lakeside retreat deal with the innocently wreckless youth they have to manage with.
As for the plot itself, it's thrilling in the way it plays out though the suspense was in dire need of a more dexterous editor. And the message? It's not as simple as don't lie but be grateful for those around you who've fucked up as much as you and willful to help you get out of this mess. How Deneuve and co. scoop a pretty young liar out of an 'epic fail' is great movie stuff.
Here, he has created a fictional film around the true story of a troubled young French woman who reported that she was the victim of an Anti-Semitic attack on the subway. I don't fully grasp the editing choices TÃ©chinÃ© makes in telling the story, but the film is gorgeously shot and compelling throughout.
Catherine Deneuve gives a wonderful performance as the mother who suspects that her daughter is lying and tries to get her to confess.