Every film Roger Ebert has given a four-star rating. This is an ongoing project.
Man on the Train
A poet. A thief. Two strangers with nothing in common are about to trade their lives for a chance to cheat their destinies.
A man, Milan (played by Johnny Hallyday) steps off a train, into a small French village. As he waits for the day when he will rob the town bank, he runs into an old retired poetry teacher named M. Manesquier (Jean Rochefort). The two men strike up a strange friendship and explore the road not taken, each wanting to live the other's life.
Engaging examination of regret and what might have been. Halliday and Rochefort are terrific as two very different men who strike up an unusual friendship, and the first 2 thirds of the film are pleasurable because of their philosophical discussions and flashes of dry humour. The last act has an surprising mirrored structure and takes a somewhat open-ended, almost magical turn. A little gem.
The most beautiful way, a Human being can think of explaining,
The Grass is always Greener on the other side of the valley.
# No Pun intended.
The inevitability of any man's death is not measured by his occupation, what kind of life he has lead or what kind of person he is. We all simply die. In Man on the Train, Patrice Leconte foolishly attempts to make this point the central focus of the film about twenty minutes before it ends (That it's built so steadily on a foundation of quirk transcending sincerity only makes matters worse). Rochefort is a retired French teacher who lives in a giant mansion and Hallyday is in town to rob a bank. With hotels closed in the off season, Hallyday shacks up in the aged professor's mansion. On Saturday, the octogenarian will go for a triple bypass and the sparingly…
Great characters. Well directed. Lots to like, but not quite enough that I would recommend it to a friend
Excellent, well paced, beautifully shot, intelligently scripted film that could have only come out of France. Without becoming sentimental, except perhaps for part of the ending, this is an engrossing tale that begins with two completely different men meeting as they leave a pharmacy. Jean Rochefort as the hermit like villager in his ramshackle mansion, is of course immaculate and convincing from the start but Johnny Hallyday as the man who has arrived by train for a few days is a revelation. The film tells of the relationship of the two men as it develops over those couple of days, in fact and in their imagination. The fact that Hallyday is in this village to meet up with fellow baddies…
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Created July 2013.
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