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Homme du train, L'
Jean Rochefort
Johnny Hallyday

An admirer of French films, I was familiar with Jean Rochefort, especially from the wonderful film, The Hairdresser's Husband, but had only heard of Johnny Hallyday, and only, in the sense of a legend. Like, I wasn't even sure he existed. But after viewing The Man on a Train, not only am I sure of his existence, but I shall retreat, if possible, to view all of his previous films, for his presence on screen is something not to be missed. And, in this totally mesmerizing yarn, this capable duo is a pure delight.

Directed by another true cinematic genius, Patrice LeConte, this tale of two strangers, with seemingly nothing in common, shows how happenstance can truly interfere in the destiny of the least common man. Arriving on a train in an anonymous French village, Hallyday's character, Milan, strolls into town like Clint Eastwood in an old spaghetti western. Soon Milan bumps into Monsieur Manesquier (Rochefort), who reminds one of a chattering Peter Sellers in an Inspector Clouseau monologue. Late in the evening, with no place to stay, Milan is invited to stay with Manesquier in has rambling villa on the edge of town. Slowly, it's revealed that the fifty-something Milan, has something sinister on his mind, or else the fact that he's carrying weapons in his valise is totally misleading. At the sametime, the seemingly reclusive, seventy-something, ex-teacher, Manesquier, radiates with charm and grace, and slowly but surely the two minds meet and bond with certain respect. But both are headed for different agendas that lead to the same destination. Saturday awaits.

In the meantime, we get to know of the wisdom each has acquired through the years, gathered through totally different travails and paths. We also learn of each one's intended goals, and how at times, they might have liked to have been in each other's shoes. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who loves cinema and therefore will stop here, pre-spoilers. Like a lot of french films, it might be considered slow by american standards, but it is a slowness of necessity; as it takes time for two strangers to become acquainted, it takes time for us to become acquainted with them, and to care about them, as real people. The end comes way too soon, but the editing is marvelous as it switches scenes between the two men as their plans meet fruition.

I can only add, if you were captivated by Rochefort in The Hairdresser's Husband, then you don't want to miss this ride, and if, like me, you're unfamiliar with Johhny Hallyday, by all means, take this opportunity to change that misfortunate circumstance.

Personal viewing:(2002)Man on the Train

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